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“Lord, I love you”. These were the last words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. A probe of his dedication and faith. Today, the entire Catholic church has paid tribute to him. His funeral celebrated in St Peter´s Square was presided over by Pope Francis, the first of its kind for over 200 years, and was attended by thousands of devotees.
The two-hour multilingual ceremony has delivered for an emotional Pope Francis who said: ‘Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.’
The Requiem Mass began at 9:30 am Rome time but the faithful started to pour in at 3 am GMT, five and a half hours before the service for the Pope Emeritus who made history by retiring in 2013 due to his declining health, then aged 85.
As 12 pallbearers carried in the coffin to the sound of applause and tolling bolls, the faithful read the rosary in Latin, and hymns were sung.
The body of Pope Emeritus was taken from the basilica and rested before the altar in the piazza as red-robed cardinals looked on, while Benedict’s long time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, bent down and kissed a book of the Gospels that was left open on the coffin.
'Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.'Pope Francis
Since Monday 2, the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lies in state in St Peter’s Basilica, where the faithful paid their final respects and offered their prayers for the repose of the soul of the late Joseph Ratzinger.