The Vatican

Five days to bid farewell to Benedict XVI

The world bids its last farewell to Benedict XVI, this January 5, after intense days in which thousands of faithful and public figures have shown their affection and respect for the Pope Emeritus by visiting his body exposed in St. Peter's Basilica.

María José Atienza / Paloma López-January 5, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes
benedict xvi

Detail of Benedict XVI's hands shrouded with a rosary and crucifix. ©CNS photo/Paul Haring

The morning of December 31, 2022 was marked on the world's calendar by the announcement of the Holy See's announcement of the death of Benedict XVI at 9:34 a.m. that same morning.

A few days earlier, Pope Francis had asked the faithful to prayers for the health of the Pope emeritus "who was very ill".. That same day, the pontiff went to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, Benedict XVI's place of residence, to visit his predecessor. 

The last day of the year, the Pope emeritus passed away at the Vatican This has given rise to a cascade of information about his life, farewells from people close to him or not and, of course, the affectionate reaction of most of the Catholic faithful.

Hardly had Benedict XVI's spiritual testament been published, when already, some people approached the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to pay their respects and pray before the deceased. 

Pope Francis, on his part, welcomed the new year praying to the Virgin MaryThe day of his solemnity, for the soul of his predecessor.

In the early morning of January 2, the body of Benedict XVI was transferred to St. Peter's Basilica, where it has been on display for five days for those who wish to view it, could come to bid farewell to the wise pope whose spiritual and scholarly thought has left an indelible mark on the Twentieth Century Theology.

"The greatest theologian ever to sit in the Chair of Peter."

In this vein, one of the people who knew Benedict XVI best is his biographer, Peter Seewald, who, in a recent interview with Thomas Kycia of OSV News, describes Joseph Ratzinger as "a very intelligent head, who does not put himself in the foreground, but rather, from the knowledge of the ChurchFrom the witnesses of the Gospel, from the tradition of Catholicism and from his own strength of thought and inspiration, he can tell you something that transforms a person of our time, a modern person".

In the same interview he recalls that Pope Francis affirms that the teaching of Benedict XVI is indispensable for the future of the Church and that it will become ever greater and more powerful with time. Seewald points out that the Pope Emeritus has been "without a doubt, the theologian the greatest who has ever sat in the chair of Peter".

The intense week, not only in the Vatican but throughout the world, will end with the funeral presided over by Pope Francis and attended by representatives of various religious denominations and personalities from the civil, cultural and political spheres.

Nevertheless, Joseph Ratzinger's funeral has nothing to do with those of his predecessors. In this case, there are only two official delegations corresponding to the nations of Germany, the pontiff's homeland, and Italy.

A simple funeralas requested by the Benedict XVIHe will rest in the tomb in the Vatican grottoes occupied by his predecessor, St. John Paul II, before being transferred to St. Peter's Basilica after his canonization.

The authorMaría José Atienza / Paloma López

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