Bishop Duignan pays tribute to late Pope as Rome comes to standstill for today’s funeral

Bishop of Galway Michael Duignan has paid tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who will be laid to rest in Rome this morning.

He said that it was with particular sadness that he learned of the death of Benedict.

Bishop Duignan said that Pope Benedict, elected to succeed Pope Saint John Paul II as Bishop of Rome in 2005, had served the Church until his resignation in 2013.

“He was a shy man of profound faith and keen intellect who throughout his life endeavoured to hold up to the world of today the immense richness and relevance of the Christian vision of life.

“At the Mass for his inauguration in Rome, he described himself as a “weak servant of God” and appealed for prayer that the Lord would “protect” him and “sustain” him and “carry” him.

“As Pope, he faced the joys and sorrows that such a weighty office brings with it.

“I join with so many in giving thanks to God for his leadership at a time of great transition,” said Bishop Duignan.

“His historic decision to resign on health grounds in 2013 will forever frame the insightful humility and unshakeable trust in God that marked his life.

“Today we pray that he rests in the loving presence of the God whom he loved and served in this life.”

At least 60,000 people are expected for the funeral of pope emeritus Benedict XVI today (Thursday ) and around 30,000 were expected to visit St. Peter’s Basilica on each of the three days that the pope emeritus’s body lay in state there this week.

The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St. Peter’s Square this morning starting at 9:30 a.m. Rome time. And the only official delegations to be present will be from Germany and Italy.

After the funeral Mass, the coffin will be taken to St. Peter’s Basilica and then to the Vatican grotto for burial. It was widely reported before his death that his burial site would be in the chapel where St. John Paul II’s body rested until his beatification in 2011.

In death the body of Pope Benedict XVI was dressed in a red chasuble, a tradition for deceased popes, but photos provided by the Vatican showed he was not wearing a pallium, the woolen band the pope and archbishops wear to symbolize how they carry their flocks on their shoulders. He was wearing black shoes -- not the red ones he was known for as pope -- and was holding a crucifix and rosary.

After his death, the late pope’s body was moved into the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens. Pope Benedict had moved into the building shortly after retiring in 2013.


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