Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Funeral on Thursday

By International wires 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will have a “solemn but simple” funeral this week, the Vatican said, in a ceremony that will be presided over by a sitting pope for the first time in centuries.

The funeral on Thursday will be in accordance with the former pontiff’s wishes and will be led by Pope Francis.

The unusual circumstances will mean the Vatican is navigating uncharted waters as it hammers out the finer details of the event.

The ceremony on Thursday will be in accordance with the former pontiff’s wishes and will be led by Pope Francis

The Telegraph UK reported that normally the death of a pope is followed by a conclave, in which cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel to choose a new pontiff, but that will not be required this time.

Pope Francis, 86, paid tribute to his predecessor on Sunday, describing Benedict as “beloved” during a New Year’s Day service.

“Today we entrust the beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to the most holy mother (the Virgin Mary), to accompany him in his passage from this world to God,” he said at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Later, delivering his traditional Angelus prayer in front of crowds in St Peter’s Square, Francis said: “Let us all join together, with one heart and one soul, in thanking God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and of the Church.”

The Vatican released the first photos of Benedict following his death on Saturday at the age of 95, showing him resting on a catafalque in the chapel of the former convent inside the Vatican city state where he spent his retirement.

His head resting on a pillow, the former pope was dressed in red vestments and a cream-coloured mitre, his hands clutching a rosary.

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