Faithful pay respects to former Pope Benedict in St. Peter’s

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Benedict died on Saturday at the age of 95 in the secluded Vatican monastery where he had lived since his shock resignation in 2013.

His body, dressed in red and gold liturgical vestments, was placed on a simple dais, with two Swiss guards standing on either side as the faithful passed by.

He will lie in state until Wednesday. His funeral will be held on Thursday in St. Peter’s Square and will be presided over by Pope Francis. The Vatican said that it will be a simple, solemn and sober ceremony in accordance with his wishes.

There were no signs of the large crowds that came to pay their respects to Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, after his death in 2005.

During his papacy of eight years, Benedict, a methodical, shy and very private German, had a hard time filling the shoes of the charismatic John Paul, and invited constant comparison in the media and among the faithful of the Church of 1.3 billion members.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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