The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. is in the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY (AP) – The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. she lies in state in St. Peter’s Basilica while thousands of people lined up hours before dawn on Monday to pay their respects.

The doors of the basilica were opened for the public, some of whom had waited for hours in the pre-dawn humidity, to pay their respects to the late Pope, who shocked the world in 2013 by becoming the -first to withdraw from the papacy in 600. years.

The frail, 95-year-old Benedict died on Saturday morning in the Vatican monastery, where he had lived since his retirement in 2013, when he became the first Pope to abdicate in 600 years.

35-year-old Filippo Tuccio came on an overnight train from Venice to see Benedict’s body.

“I wanted to pay my respects to Benedittu because he played a major role in my life and in my education. I got here around 7:30 am after leaving Venice last night,” said Tuccio.

“When I was young I attended the World Youth Days,” said the pilgrim, referring to the Jamborees of young believers that were held regularly and attended by the popes. Tuccio added that he studied theology and “his pontificate accompanied me during my student days.”

“It was very important for me: for who I am, the way I think, my values. That’s why I wanted to say goodbye today.”

The public viewing lasts 10 hours on Monday in St. Peter’s Basilica. Twelve hours are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday before the funeral on Thursday morning in St. Peter’s Square, which will be presided over by Pope Francis.

Security officials expected at least 25,000 people to pass by the corpse on the first day of the tour.


Follow AP’s coverage of Pope Benedict XVI:

Giada Zampano and Frances D’emilio, The Associated Press


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