The body of Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday at the age of 95, is on display from Monday morning under the gold of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, where the faithful will be able to pay their last respects to him before his funeral on Thursday.
• Read also: Pope Francis salutes the “beloved” Benedict XVI the day after his death
• Read also: The Vatican releases the first photos of the body of Benedict XVI
The doors of the huge basilica will be open to the public from 09:00 (08:00 GMT) until 19:00 (18:00 GMT), then from 06:00 to 18:00 GMT on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Admission is free and does not require the reservation of tickets, said the Vatican, which has put in place an important security device for the occasion.
The body of Joseph Ratzinger had remained so far in the small private chapel of the monastery where he lived since his renunciation in 2013, located in the heart of the Vatican gardens.
The Vatican released on Sunday the first photos of the body of the pope emeritus, lying on a catafalque, dressed in red – the color of papal mourning – and wearing a white miter adorned with a golden braid, a rosary in his hands. A crucifix, a Christmas tree and a nativity scene are visible in the background.
The transfer of his body to St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Catholic church in the world that can accommodate tens of thousands of worshippers, will take place at dawn on Monday.
The basilica, a masterpiece of architecture combining Renaissance and Baroque styles, completed in 1626, is also one of the holiest places in Christianity, since it houses the tomb of Saint Peter, the first bishop of Rome whose popes are the successors.
On Sunday, Pope Francis once again paid homage to “beloved” Benedict XVI, “that faithful servant of the Gospel and of the Church”.
Brilliant theologian and fervent guardian of dogma, Benedict XVI, who had resigned in 2013 because of his declining strength, died peacefully on Saturday morning.
The funeral celebrated by Francis for his predecessor, at the head of the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, will constitute an unprecedented event in the two-thousand-year history of the Catholic Church, and will put an end to the unusual cohabitation of the two men in white.
The ceremony, "solemn, but sober" according to the Vatican, will be held Thursday from 9:30 a.m. (08:30 GMT) in Saint Peter's Square, where the funeral of his predecessor John Paul II had attracted a million people in 2005. Germany's first pope in modern history will then be buried in a crypt in the basilica.
Benedict XVI's last words, spoken in Italian hours before his death on Saturday in the presence of a nurse at his bedside, were: “Lord, I love you,” his private secretary, Bishop Georg Gänswein, reported to the Vatican. News, the official news site of the Holy See.
After his eight years of a pontificate marked by multiple crises, Benedict XVI was overtaken in early 2022 by the drama of pedocrime in the Church. Questioned by a report in Germany on his handling of sexual violence when he was Archbishop of Munich, he broke his silence to ask for “pardon”, but assured that he had never covered up a child criminal.
Born in 1927, Joseph Ratzinger taught theology for 25 years in Germany before being appointed Archbishop of Munich.
He then became the strict guardian of the dogma of the Church for another quarter of a century in Rome at the head of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, then pope for eight years, succeeding John Paul II.
The last pope to have participated in the Second Vatican Council, he nevertheless defended a conservative line at the head of the Church, in particular on abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia.