Pope Francis joined tens of thousands of faithful in bidding farewell to Benedict XVI at a rare requiem Mass Thursday for a dead pope presided over by a living one, ending an unprecedented decade for the Catholic Church that was sparked by the German theologian’s decision to retire, AP reports.
Bells tolled and the crowd applauded as pallbearers carried Benedict’s cypress coffin out of the fog-shrouded St. Peter’s Basilica and placed it before the altar in the square outside. Wearing the crimson vestments typical of papal funerals, Francis opened the service with a prayer and closed it by solemnly blessing the simple casket — decorated only with the former pope’s coat of arms.
In between, Francis made only fleeting reference to Benedict in his homily, offering a meditation on Christ instead of a eulogy of his predecessor’s legacy before the casket was sealed and entombed in the basilica grotto.
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