Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s body lay in state in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday, his head resting on a pair of crimson pillows, as tens of thousands waited to pay their respects to the pontiff who shocked the world by retiring a decade ago.
On the eve of the first of three days of viewing, Italian security officials predicted that between 25,000 and 30,000 people would attend. However, the Vatican reported that by the end of the first day of viewing, approximately 65,000 people had passed by the bier.
After the body arrived at the basilica, ten white-gloved Papal Gentlemen — lay assistants to pontiffs and papal households — carried it to its final resting place in front of the main altar under Bernini’s towering bronze canopy.
A Swiss Guard saluted as Benedict’s body was brought in through a side door from the chapel of the monastery grounds, where the increasingly frail, 95-year-old former pontiff died on Saturday morning.