Benedict, the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, rather than remain in office for life, died on Dec. 31 in a monastery in Vatican City, according to a Vatican statement.
He was elected Pope in April 2005, following the death of John Paul II.
The former pope’s body was moved Monday morning from the monastery to St. Peter’s Basilica, where the faithful have been laid to rest, the Vatican said. As of 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) on Monday, about 40,000 people had paid their respects to the former pope, according to Vatican police.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella were among those paying their respects as Benedict lay in state.
See Pope Benedict’s most memorable moments
Mourners queuing in St. Peter’s Square told CNN they wanted to pay their respects to the former pope.
Paul, a student from Scotland, said, “We have come to pray to thank God for the life of Pope Benedict.
“Besides his theology, which is very important to the Church, I think all the time he spent praying for the Church in his retirement was a great witness to all of us.”
Benedict’s funeral will take place at 9:30 a.m. local time Thursday in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, according to Matteo Bruni, director of the press office of the Holy See. The funeral procession will be presided over by Pope Francis. In keeping with Benedict’s wishes, Bruni said his funeral would be “simple”.
Francis paid tribute to his predecessor while leading the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
“In particular, this salute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who passed away yesterday morning. We salute him as a faithful servant of the gospel,” he said.
Benedict is known to be more conservative than Pope Francis, who has made moves to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as making more efforts to tackle the sex-abuse crisis that has engulfed the church in recent years. Benedict’s legacy.
In 2013, he stunned Catholics and religious experts around the world when he announced his plans to step down from the papacy, citing his “advanced age.”
In his farewell address, the outgoing pope promised to remain “hidden” from the world, but continued to speak out on religious matters in the years after his retirement, contributing to tensions within the Catholic Church.
Political and religious leaders including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Dalai Lama paid tribute to his death.
Pope Benedict XVI did something no pope had done in 600 years