The funeral of Pope Benedict XVI has been held at the Vatican, the first time in hundreds of years a funeral service for a former pope has been presided over by a current pope.
Before the service, Benedict’s body had been on display in St Peter’s Basilica, dressed in robes and clutching rosary beads, allowing tens of thousands of mourners to file past.
As it began, pallbearers carried Benedict’s coffin out of the huge church and rested it before an altar in front of St Peter’s Square.
Inside the vast space, thousands of people had gathered, including heads of state, royalty and clergy from around the world.
Pope Francis, 86, who arrived in a wheelchair and wearing the crimson vestments typical of papal funerals, began with the introductory rites.
The service started with a prayer and Francis closed it an hour later by solemnly blessing the casket – decorated only with the former pope’s coat of arms.
During the homily, Francis appeared to compare Benedict to Jesus, including his last words before he died on the cross, when he said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
But the current Pope did not dwell on Benedict’s specific legacy and only uttered his name once.
He said: “Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom [Jesus], may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever,” before adding that the ecclesial community wanted to “commend our brother into the hands of the Father.”
Following a period of silence, before the universal prayer, the words “for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who has fallen asleep in the Lord, may the eternal shepherd receive him into his kingdom of light and peace,” were read out.
During the service, he was laid out in coffin made of cypress wood enclosed first by zinc with a further wooden coffin inside.
Some in the crowd held banners or shouted “Santo Subito!”, Italian for “Sainthood Now!” – an echo of calls that were made during the funeral in 2005 of John Paul II, the last pope to die.
Following the ceremony, at his own request, Benedict was entombed in the crypt beneath St Peter’s, in an area once occupied by the coffin of John Paul II.
Benedict was buried with a document in Latin that detailed some of the most notable occurrences of his papacy, alongside some coins and other papal regalia.
Why Benedict wasn’t Pope when he died
Ten years ago, Benedict made the rare decision to step down as pope, citing “advanced age” as the main reason that he was no longer strong enough to lead the Church.
In his final years, Benedict lived in a monastery within the Vatican gardens. He continued to wear white and did not revert to his old name, being referred to instead as Pope Emeritus. A decision that was criticised at the time.
Ahead of the funeral, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Benedict’s personal secretary told Vatican News about the late pope’s final words.
In one last profession of love to the Lord, Gaenswein said: “With just a whisper of a voice, but in a clearly distinguishable manner, [Benedict] said in Italian, ‘Lord, I love you!’ I was not there at the moment, but the nurse told me about it shortly afterwards.”