By Ivan Mwine
The body of fallen retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is lying in state at the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where it was taken Monday for consecration and to allow believers pay their last respects to him.
Footage coming in from the Vatican portrays Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ‘s body, his head resting on a pair of crimson pillows, lying in state in St. Peter’s Basilica, as thousands of people filed by to pay tribute to the pontiff who shocked the world by retiring a decade ago.
As daylight broke, 10 white-gloved Papal Gentlemen, who are lay assistants to pontiffs and papal households, carried the body on a cloth-covered wooden stretcher up the center aisle of the mammoth basilica to its resting place in front of the main altar under Bernini’s towering bronze canopy.
A Swiss Guard saluted as the body was brought in via a side door after Benedict’s remains, placed in a van, had been transferred from the chapel of the monastery grounds where the increasingly frail, 95-year-old former pontiff had passed away on Saturday morning.
His longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, and a handful of consecrated laywomen who served in Benedict’s household, followed the van by foot in a silent procession toward the basilica.
Just after 9 a.m. (0800 GMT), the doors of the basilica were swung open so the public, some who had waited for hours in the dampness before dawn, could pay their respects to the late pontiff, who retired from the papacy in 2013 to become the first pope to do so in 600 years.
Meanwhile, as the funeral procession is going on, Pope Francis, who replaced Benedict XVI following his resignation, is seen consecrating the deceased Pontiff’s remains by burning incense and sprinkling holy water on the corpse.
It should however be noted that according to regulations put in place by the Vatican, public viewing lasts for 10 hours on Monday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Twelve hours of viewing are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday morning’s funeral, which will be led by Pope Francis, at St. Peter’s Square.