More than 65,000 people filed past the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the first day of his lying-in-state, according to the Vatican.
Born as Joseph Ratzinger on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany, he died on Saturday, aged 95, and his body is will lie in state at St Peter’s Basilica until his funeral on Thursday.
Pope Benedict XVI was elected as pope in 2005 to replace the late Pope John Paul II.
He was one of two popes in history to resign from the role – breaking almost 600 years of tradition – in 2013, instead of remaining as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church until his death.
Citing a decline in health, both “of mind and body”, Pope Benedict XVI also said he had resigned freely and “for the good of the church” during a time of scandals and mounting pressure to address sexual abuse in the Church, according to The New York Times.
The Times also stated Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to meet with victims, apologised for the abuse and excommunicated some offending priests, however he was criticised for not going far enough.
His successor Pope Francis, formerly known as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, took over on 13 March 2013. He will lead the funeral mass on Thursday before the body of Pope Benedict XVI is bured in the tombs beneath the basilica.
A male nurse who helped care for the 95-year-old former pontiff in his final hours reportedly heard Pope Benedict XVI utter his final words, in Italian: ”Lord, I love you”.
Pope Benedict XVI’s background
- The son of a police officer, Pope Benedict XVI came “from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria”, spending “his adolescent years in Traunstein, a small town on the Austrian border”.
- His faith and family upbringing prepared him for the harsh experience of the problems connected with the Nazi regime – there was a fiercely hostile atmosphere to the Catholic Church that existed in Germany at the time.
- From 1946 to 1951, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. Together with his brother Georg, he was ordained a priest on 29 June 1951 in the Cathedral at Freising.
- In 1953 Fr Ratzinger obtained a doctorate in theology, four years later qualifying as a university professor, teaching dogma and fundamental.
- From 1962 to 1965 he was present during all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council as a chief theological advisor to the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Josef Frings.
- On 24 March 1977, Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising. He was ordained a Bishop on 28 May that same year and was the first diocesan priest in 80 years to take on the pastoral governance of this large Bavarian Diocese.
- He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Paul VI in the Consistory of 27 June 1977.
- On 6 November 1998, he was appointed Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals; on 30 November 2002, the Holy Father approved his election, by the order of Cardinal Bishops, as Dean of the College of Cardinals.
- As Dean of the College of Cardinals he presided over the College’s deliberations during the Vacancy of the Holy See following the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005.
- On Tuesday, 19 April, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 265th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, selecting the name Benedict XVI.
Real his full biography at Vatican.va.