On the morning of New Year’s Eve (7.34pm Melbourne time), Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican, where the 95-year-old had lived for almost 10 years since resigning as pope in 2013. After his death was announced, a single bell rang from St Peter’s Square.

Shortly afterwards, the Vatican announced that from 2 January, his body would be placed in St Peter’s Basilica for ‘the greeting of the faithful’.

Pope Francis will preside over the funeral Mass in St Peter’s square on Thursday 5 January, followed by the Final Commendation and Valediction—the first time in modern history that a sitting pope will preside over his predecessor’s funeral. No tickets or reservations will be required to attend. After the Valediction, his remains will be taken into St Peter’s Basilica and then into the Vatican Grottoes beneath the Basilica, where they will be laid to rest. His body will be dressed in the vestments that he wore at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2018.

During a briefing at the Holy See Press office, director Matteo Bruni confirmed that on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 December, the Pope Emeritus had received the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick at the end of Holy Mass. He also said Benedict specifically asked that his funeral be marked by simplicity, just as he lived his life.

In his homily at the traditional celebration of Vespers and recitation of the Te Deum in St Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis remembered his predecessor, recalling his great kindness, witness of faith and prayer:

And speaking of kindness, at this moment, my thought naturally goes to dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who left us this morning. We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind. And we feel such gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his recollected life. Only God knows the value and the power of his intercession, of the sacrifices he offered for the good of the Church.

It is expected that the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be broadcast on the Vatican News English YouTube channel, beginning at 7.30pm Melbourne time (9.30am Rome time) on Thursday 5 January.

Main image: Benedict XVI during canonisation Mass, 17 October 2010. Photo by Kancelaria Prezydenta RP from the Archive of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, via Wikimedia Commons.