UPDATE: Pope Benedict’s funeral will respect his wishes to be simple
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes, his funeral and moments of prayer surrounding it will be simple, according to the Vatican press office.
The 95-year-old pope’s body will stay at his private residence, where he passed away Dec. 31, until early Jan. 2, during which time “no official visits or public prayers are planned,” the press office said in a statement Dec. 31.
His remains will then be brought to St. Peter’s Basilica, where, starting at 9 a.m., people will be able to pay their last respects and offer their prayers from Jan. 2 to Jan. 4, it said.
The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5 starting at 9:30 a.m. Rome time. And the only official delegations to be present will be from Germany and Italy, the Vatican said.
After the funeral Mass, the coffin will be taken to St. Peter’s Basilica and then to the Vatican grotto for burial.
Just a few hours after Pope Benedict died at 9:34 a.m. Dec. 31, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, spoke to reporters.
While he did not offer precise details as to what the funeral Mass of a retired pope will look like, Bruni said that Pope Benedict wanted his funeral and related events to be carried out “in a sign of simplicity.”
Bruni also said the retired pope received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick Dec. 28, the day Pope Francis told people Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers.
“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis had said at the end of his general audience.
Before the funeral, Bruni added, all scheduled events at the Vatican were to continue as planned, such as Pope Francis’ evening celebration of vespers and the recitation of the Te Deum Dec. 31.