Pope Francis praised Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s “acute and gentle thought” as he presided over a packed Wednesday general audience in the Vatican, while thousands of people paid tribute to the former pope on the final day of public viewing in St. Peter’s Basilica, AP reports.

Francis was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in the Paul VI auditorium and shouts of “Viva il papa!” or “Long live the pope” as he arrived for his weekly catechism appointment with the faithful.

This week’s audience was conducted as tens of thousands of people continued to flock to St. Peter’s Basilica to pay their respects before Benedict’s body, lying in state. The first two days of viewing drew a total of 135,000 people. Wednesday’s viewing began before dawn and was set to end in early evening.

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