VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The funeral of Pope Benedict XVI took place this morning, attended by thousands of Catholics, both laity and clerics, and led by Pope Francis.
Crowds gathered from before 6 a.m. to attend the funeral of the late German Pontiff, with the Vatican’s liturgical notes revealing they were prepared for 3,500 priests to attend.
Cardinal Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the Mass in the presence of Pope Francis. They were joined by over 120 cardinals in attendance in addition to hundreds of bishops from around the world.
Picture thread from #PopeBenedictXVI‘s funeral.
Mass celebrated by Cdl. Re in the presence of #PopeFrancis at the #Vatican.
A welcome sight was to observe Cdl. Zen in attendance.
Strong #German presence to pay homage to the late Pontiff. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/VYAruaZyM8
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) January 5, 2023
FOR LIFESITENEWS’S VIDEO COVERAGE OF THE FUNERAL, CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW:
In delivering his homily, Pope Francis quoted extensively from Scripture, focussing on Christ’s passion and death. While the custom in the Novus Ordo rites of the Church is to make mention of the person who has died, Francis avoided any reference to Benedict until the very end of his homily: “Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear His voice, now and forever!”
The ceremony was conducted in a variety of languages, with readings in Spanish and English. Much of the Mass was celebrated in Latin, with some of the traditional requiem plainchant sung in Latin also. However, in an apparently striking break with tradition, the Roman Canon was not used at the funeral, for the first time in centuries.
For the first time since the 6th Century the Roman Canon will not be used at the Requiem Mass of a Roman Pontiff. https://t.co/YRURuMmBen
— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) January 3, 2023
The majority of the college of cardinals from across the world attended, with the notable presence of Cardinal Joseph Zen, who had been “allowed” to leave Hong Kong for five days by the Chinese Communist authorities.
READ: Cdl. Zen allowed to leave Hong Kong for Pope Benedict’s funeral
Also present was disgraced former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
The crowd of priests and seminarians who had also gathered in St. Peter’s Square was particularly large, amounting to nearly half the number of the laity gathered in the square.
In the words of Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, in line with “the wishes of the Pope Emeritus, the funeral will be held under the sign of simplicity,” with Bruni saying ahead of time that it will be a “solemn but sober funeral.”
As such, the only official national delegations were from Italy and Germany. However, there were representatives from other countries including Queen Sofia of Spain and King Philip of Belgium.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni attended the funeral alongside the nation’s president Sergio Mattarella, both of whom received Holy Communion during the Mass.
Following the conclusion of Mass, Pope Benedict’s coffin was carried by the papal pallbearers back into St. Peter’s Basilica. The coffin is to be placed inside a zinc coffin and then again into a wooden case, before being placed in the tomb used for Pope John Paul II prior to his beatification.
Estimates state that, during the 34 hours open to the faithful to visit Pope Benedict lying in state, over 160,000 pilgrims filed past his body before the high altar of the basilica.
With pilgrims coming from all around the world, particularly notable was a large German contingent, complete with drums and a Bavarian marching band.