Public now can see Benedict’s tomb at St. Peter’s Basilica


VATICAN CITY – The public can now visit the tomb of Pope Benedict XVI in the caves below St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Pope was buried on January 5 immediately after the funeral in St Peter’s Square. Benedict’s tomb is located in the caves below the main floor of the basilica.

The Vatican announced on Saturday that the public can visit the tomb starting Sunday morning.

Benedict has lived since 2013 as pope emeritus, after he retired from the papacy, the first pope to do so in 600 years. He died on December 31 at the age of 95, in the Vatican convent, where he spent the last years of his life.

On Thursday, his longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, gave his final blessing after his body, which was contained inside three coffins – the cypress sarcophagus on display in the square. At the funeral ceremony presided over by Pope Francis, the sarcophagus was zinc and the outermost one was hewn from oak. – was lowered into a gap in the floor.

The remains are placed in the old tomb of Benedict’s predecessor, Saint John Paul II. John Paul’s remains were moved to a chapel on the main floor of the basilica after he was beatified in 2011.

About 50,000 people attended Benedict’s funeral, three days after his body was laid to rest in the basilica, an event that drew nearly 200,000 spectators.

The Vatican says the name of Benedict, the 265th pope of the Catholic Church, has been engraved on a slab of white marble.

The Vatican did not say whether Pope Francis would personally visit Benedict’s completed tomb before allowing it to be viewed by the public, or if he might do so at another time.

On Sunday morning, Pope Francis was presiding over the baptism of 13 babies in the Sistine Chapel. The chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is the traditional setting for the baptism, an event that concludes the Vatican’s year-end ceremonies.


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