He was a pioneer in history throughout his lifetime, and Pope Benedict XVI will continue that legacy in his final days.
The Vatican will host a funeral service for a former pope for the first time since many hundreds of centuries. It will be presided over this year by the current Pope.
After three days of Benedict’s body in robes and holding rosary beads for three days, the service will begin this morning. This has allowed thousands of mourners to file past.
The Pope Francis will lead the funeral service. It will have both traditional and unique elements.
Along with coins and other papal regalia, a Latin-language document that details some of Benedict’s most significant occurrences will be buried with him.
The service will start with the introductory rituals, which wish for “eternal rest” and “permanent light”.
This will include readings from Isaiah as well as the first letter from St Peter.
He will be known as Pope Emeritus Benedict. It describes him as the successor to Peter, shepherd of the Church and faithful minister of the divine secrets.
Benedict will be buried with the traditional triple coffin. A casket made from cypress wood is enclosed by zinc, then a wooden coffin.
He will be buried under St Peter’s Basilica in the crypt, which was previously occupied by Pope John Paul II’s coffin.
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The funeral of Pope Emeritus is different from the one that would be held following the death of an incumbent Pope.
Two international delegations were invited to the meeting: one from Italy (where the Vatican rests) and one from Germany (home country of Benedict Ratzinger, who was previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger).
Germany is expected to send Frank-Walter Steinmeier as its president.
Many countries will continue to send senior figures to the event. Gillian Keegan (education secretary) will represent the UK. Gillian Keegan, the education secretary for the UK, will be there.
A large audience will watch the funeral from around the globe.
Some observers believe this will reflect a modern view of the papal office, which can be relegated to a more fitter, younger successor.
Others will be affected by this, but it will raise two fundamental questions: one, whether Benedict set a precedent for the job to become a shorter-term position than one that is carried out to death; and second, how Pope Francis will change his attitude now that he is the only living Pope.
It may be a positive thing for him to continue his initiative and his thinking now that the ghost of his predecessor, who lived in a converted monastery at the Vatican during his retirement, is gone.
On the other hand, some believe Francis may be in a difficult place and begin to wonder if he would like to retire from the leadership of the Catholic Church.
Francis will lead the service in a wheelchair.
These are the questions to be asked at today’s funeral. For now, however, all eyes will be on one thing: the sad process of allowing over a billion Catholics to say goodbye to the man they have followed for almost a decade.