The director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, announced shortly after confirming the death of Benedict XVI on December 31 that Pope Francis would preside over the funeral on Thursday, January 5, at 9.30 a.m. Rome time, in St. Peter’s Square.
While protocols surround the death and funeral of a pontiff, the funeral of a pope emeritus is uncharted territory.
Bruni told reporters that Benedict specifically asked that everything – including the funeral – be marked by simplicity, just as he lived his life.
As the day progressed, though, more details came in.
The Diocese of Rome announced that the remains of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will rest at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery until the early morning of Monday, January 2; no official visits or public prayers are planned.
Saturday and Sunday, as New Year’s Eve and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, already have various liturgical celebrations planned. As is customary, Pope Francis led the Te Deum and Vespers on the evening of the last day of the year. On Sunday morning, he will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s.
There was no announcement about the transfer of Benedict’s body to St. Peter’s, but the Diocese of Rome said that on Monday, starting at 9 a.m., the body will be displayed for the faithful to visit in St. Peter’s Basilica.
On Monday the Basilica will remain open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m..
Those wishing to concelebrate with the Holy Father at the funeral Mass may contact the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. The official Delegations present will be those of Germany and Italy.
At the end of the Eucharistic Celebration, the Ultima Commendatio and Valedictio will take place.
The coffin of the Supreme Pontiff Emeritus will be taken to the Vatican Grottoes for burial.
Benedict XVI’s biographer Peter Seewald has said the Pope Emeritus wished to be buried in the tomb originally used for Pope St. John Paul II, which is near the tomb of St. Peter. John Paul II’s tomb is now on the main floor of the Basilica.