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Pope emeritus Benedict to be buried in Sydney WYD 2008 vestments

Pope emeritus Benedict will be buried in the same vestments he wore for Mass at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney

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Papal red: Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges the crowd at the end of the final Mass of World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, on 20 July 2008. Photo: CNS, Mick Tsikas, Reuters

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will be buried on 5 January at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome in the same vestments he wore for the celebration of the Liturgy at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney.

It will be an extraordinary honour for Australia’s Catholics and all those who worked for years to make the remarkable gathering of young Catholics from all over the world with the successor to St Peter happen in Sydney.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney served as the chief organiser of World Youth Day 2008, announced the news on his Facebook page.

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Photos of the body of the pope emeritus lying in state at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the grounds of the Vatican where he lived and prayed for the Church following his resignation in 2013 show his body already clothed in the WYD 2008 chasuble – the outer red clerical garment.

The body of the late Pope Benedict XVI lies in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery at the Vatican on 1 January 2023. Pope Benedict died on 31 December at the monastery at the age of 95. Photo: CNS, Vatican Media
Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the final Mass of World Youth Day in Sydney on 20 July 2008. Photo: CNS, courtesy of World Youth Day 2008

The photos were made available to the world’s media by the Vatican’s Media Office on 1 January Rome time.

Even before the announcement those associated with the organisation of WYD 2008, including some who were present at the Mass and interacted extensively with then-Pope Benedict XVI at the time, were convinced the vestments were identical.

Being buried in his Sydney WYD 2008 chasuble will seal a unique link between the shy, intellectual pope already considered one of the greatest pope-theologians in 2000 years, and the faithful, religious, clergy and bishops of the Catholic faith in a land Down Under.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher announced on Facebook on 2 January that the Vatican had confirmed Pope emeritus Benedict would be buried in the same chasuble he wore at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.

The unexpected gesture will certainly be received by Australia’s Catholics with delight and  gratitude as they mourn a pope they came to love at the global youth gathering.

Pope Benedict’s funeral, which the Vatican announced will be held at St Peter’s on 5 January, will be presided over by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square at 9:30 am Rome time. The only official delegations to be present will be from Germany and Italy, the Vatican said.

In accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes, his funeral and moments of prayer surrounding it will be simple, the Vatican press office said.

After the funeral Mass, the coffin will be taken to St Peter’s Basilica and then to the Vatican grotto for burial.

Unique link with Catholics in a far-flung land

Ever since establishing their community in the-then penal Colony of NSW in the late 18th Century, Australia’s Catholics have  been accustomed to thinking of themselves as being at the remotest geographical extent of the Catholic Church.

In 2021 the Archdiocese of Sydney marked the 200th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the first Catholic Church in Australia by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

Its building was an extraordinary achievement in such a remote location, especially considering that Australian Catholics at that time – overwhelmingly convicts – were officially discriminated against by official policy, including in the practice of their faith.

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