On January 2, 2022, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who worked as personal secretary for Benedict XVI since 1996, was present in St. Peter’s Basilica as the faithful arrived to pray and pay their respects before the body of the late pope. Many of the faithful rushed to greet the German prelate, who received their thanks and condolences with a big smile and a few words.
Pope Benedict XVI is displayed at the foot of Bernini’s baldachin in St. Peter’s Basilica, as John Paul II was in 2005. The pontiff is dressed in a simple red chasuble over an embroidered white alb, and wearing a miter. He holds a rosary with wooden beads in his hand and does not wear the pallium of the bishop of Rome, unlike his predecessors who died in office.
The transfer of Benedict XVI’s body from the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to the basilica took place from 7 a.m. to 7:15 a.m., the Holy See said in a statement. Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over a brief rite that concluded at 7:40 a.m.
Below is Rome Reports video of approximately five minutes showing the transfer of his body.
All the members of the “family” of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery were present to witness the transfer of the body of Benedict XVI from his final resting place to the Basilica: the four lay consecrated Memores Domini – Cristina, Carmella, Loredana and Rosella – his secretary Birgit Wansin and finally Archbishop Gänswein.
All prayed for a few minutes on the few benches set up to the right of the catafalque, in front of the altar of the Confession. Then they all stood before Benedict XVI for a common prayer, while the crowd moved uninterruptedly behind them.
Archbishop Gänswein, who has been the pontiff’s spokesman in recent years and played a key role as an interface between the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery and the Residence of St. Martha, the home of Pope Francis, then moved to the south arm of the basilica, where he greeted the many people who had come to offer their condolences. He shook the hands that were offered to him and let some of the faithful and religious kiss his episcopal ring.
Welcoming all these expressions of affection with a warm smile, the German bishop took the time to have a word for everyone. For example, he thanked a young Indian priest who had come to confide in him that his conversion and his vocation had been motivated by reading the teachings of the pontiff-theologian.
A young German man, who had been waiting in line for more than two hours to pay homage to “his pope,” went to one of the barriers to address the prelate a few words in his native language. After a brief and visibly moving exchange, the young man finally broke down in tears.
Father Domingo also waited and evaded the vigilance of a guard to go and show his gratitude to Archbishop Gänswein with a fraternal embrace: “I really thanked him, he has been at Benedict’s side for all these years.” The Chilean priest had made a point of appearing before the late pope with a group of young Catholics who had come from all over the world during their vacation: “They don’t necessarily know him well, but they were all very moved and touched by this moment,” he rejoiced as he left the basilica.
Close to the Pope until the end
Close to the Pope Emeritus until the end, Archbishop Gänswein reported in the columns of Vatican News the last words spoken by the German pope. He explained that a nurse had seen the Pope murmur, “Lord, I love you” a few hours before he died.