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Simple funeral planned for Pope emeritus Benedict

The funeral for the former pontiff will be as he wished, the Vatican has said

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Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 17 October 2012. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

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 was planned to stay at his private residence, where he passed away on  31 December, until early on 2 January, during which time “no official visits or public prayers are planned,” the press office said in a statement.

His remains will then be brought to St Peter’s Basilica, where, starting at 9 am, people will be able to pay their last respects and offer their prayers from 2 to 4 January, it said.

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The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St Peter’s Square on 5 January starting at 9:30 am Rome time. 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 am on 31 December, 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 on  28 December, the day Pope Francis told people Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers.

Before the funeral, Bruni added, all scheduled events at the Vatican were to continue as planned.

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