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They carry the coffin of Benedict XVI on their shoulders to Saint Peter’s Square, where his funeral will be held

At 8:50 a.m., a group of twelve sediarians, the former bearers of the Popes’ Gestatory Chair, carried the coffin of Benedict XVI to the altar set up in Saint Peter’s Square, from where Pope Francis, accompanied by the cardinal dean, Giovanni Battista Re, will celebrate his funeral this Thursday, January 5. The personal secretary of the emeritus pope, Georg Ganswein, and the master of Pontifical Liturgical ceremonies, Diego Giovanni Ravelli, placed the gospel on top of the coffin while the faithful prayed the rosary.

The doors of Saint Peter’s Basilica, which closed this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. for the preparation of the body for burial and its introduction into the cypress coffin, reopened shortly before 9:00 a.m. morning.

The Vatican sediaries, who in the past were in charge of transporting the Roman Pontiff in the Silla Gestatoria, used for the last time by Pope John Paul I, will also be in charge of carrying the coffin in procession through the door of Santa Marta towards the Vatican Grottoes, in the company of some cardinals, for his burial in the chapel where Pope John XXIII was buried.

The Pontiff is expected to officiate the German pope’s obsequies following step by step what the ‘Ordo exequiarum Romani Pontificis’ rite marks, the same one that would be used if he were a reigning pontiff, as was done at the funeral of Saint John Paul II in 2005, although with some changes. “The base is the same, but there are some elements that give originality to the rite” and “other elements that are missing refer to the more specific ones of a reigning Pope,” explained the director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni.

For example, the final supplications of the Church of Rome and the Eastern Churches have been removed from the funeral liturgy. But all the readings of the liturgy of the Word have also been changed with respect to those of the papal funeral, in addition to all the prayers.

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