Human Interest

Former Pope Benedict XVI’s tomb opens to public

Vatican City, 8 Jan (EFE).- Former pope Benedict Benedict XVI’s tomb is open for public viewing from Sunday at St Peter’s basilica, the Vatican has announced.

The Pope Emeritus was buried in the Vatican Grottoes beneath St Peter’s Basilica, the resting place of former popes.

The crypt opened to visitors at 9:00 am although queues started forming early Sunday.

The triple coffin made of cypress, zinc and oak, with the Pope emeritus’ remains, was buried in the former tomb of Pope St John Paul II, on 5 January, following the celebration of a Requiem Mass presided over by Pope Francis, the Vatican reported.

Pope Benedict XVI’s body lay in state for three days in a funeral chapel in the Vatican basilica and was visited by some 200,000 people.

His body was then placed in the first crimson velvet lined coffin and his body was dressed in a red cloak and his face covered by a white silk scarf.

Coins minted during his pontificate were placed inside the coffin along with the palliums he wore and a metal cylinder containing a “deed” of his life and pontificate, the Vatican said.

Benedict XVI died on 31 December, 2022 aged 95.

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, the former pontiff had been living surrounded by his Vatican “family”, made up of his secretary, a doctor, a nurse and four consecrated laywomen, who shared the household chores and took care of the needs of the former pope.

Since stepping down nine years ago, Benedict XVI had largely withdrawn from public life, although on rare occasions he spoke out about certain issues that affected his time as pontiff.

For example, in February this year, he asked forgiveness for the mistakes committed during his tenures in the various offices he held, after a report found he was aware of allegations of child sexual abuse in

Germany during his time as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

“I can only express to all victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness. I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate,” he had said in a statement.

“The victims of sexual abuse have my deepest sympathy and I feel great sorrow for each individual case.”

He only rarely left the Vatican walls in his final years: once to visit his ailing brother, Georg, in the hospital and in June 2020 when he traveled to Germany to see him again a few weeks before he died at the age of 95.EFE


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