Pope Francis kicks off ex-pontiff Benedict XVI’s funeral

Pope Francis kicks off ex-pontiff Benedict XVI's funeral
Pope Francis pays his respect as he touch the coffin of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during his funeral mass at St. Peter's square in the Vatican, on January 5, 2023. - Pope Francis is presiding on January 5 over the funeral of his predecessor Benedict XVI at the Vatican, an unprecedented event in modern times expected to draw tens of thousands of people. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Pope Francis led ex-pope Benedict XVI’s funeral mass Thursday, as a choir in St Peter’s Square sang prayers for the first pontiff to have resigned since the Middle Ages.

Francis prayed in front of Benedict’s plain, cypress wood coffin, which lay at the head of the Vatican square packed with foreign dignitaries, cardinals, bishops, priests and believers from around the world.

Ex-pope Benedict XVI’s coffin was carried into St Peter’s Basilica on Thursday, following a funeral at the Vatican led by Pope Francis and attended by tens of thousands of mourners.

The remains of the German Joseph Ratzinger, who was the first pontiff to retire since the Middle Ages, will be buried in the tomb under the Basilica which previously held the body of John Paul II.