The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica has been visited by 65,000 people on Monday. The body of the late former pope will remain at St. Peter’s Basilica for two more days and will be followed by a funeral on January 5. Italian security officials had estimated that a minimum of 25,000-30,000 people will visit on Monday, but by the end of the first day, the number of people who visited turned out to be around 65,000. Pope Benedict XVI’s body has been kept in front of the basilica’s main altar and his head has been placed on crimson pillows.
CBN News reports:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ‘s body, his head resting on a pair of crimson pillows, lay in state in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday as tens of thousands queued to pay tribute to the pontiff who shocked the world by retiring a decade ago.
On the eve of the first of three days of viewing, Italian security officials had said at least 25,000-30,000 people would come on Monday. But by the end of the first day’s viewing, some 65,000 persons had passed by the bier, the Vatican said.
As daylight broke, 10 white-gloved Papal Gentlemen — lay assistants to pontiffs and papal households — carried the body on a cloth-covered wooden stretcher after its arrival at the basilica to its resting place in front of the main altar under Bernini’s towering bronze canopy.
A Swiss Guard saluted as Benedict’s body was brought in through a side door after it was transferred in a van from the chapel of the monastery grounds where the increasingly frail, 95-year-old former pontiff died 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 for a few hundred yards in a silent procession toward the basilica. Some of the women stretched out a hand to touch the body with respect.
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