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Lines of people snake around St Peter’s Square for second day to view Pope Benedict’s body

Lines of people snake around St Peter’s Square for second day to view Pope Benedict’s body

Queues of people snaked around St Peter’s Square in Vatican City for a second day on Tuesday as mourners waited to view the body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Around 65,000 people paid their respects on Monday – the first day the general public could view the body – about double the figure predicted by Italian security.

Benedict died on Saturday at age 95 following 10 years of retirement from the papacy, and after increasingly frail health.

Faithful queuing outside St Peter's Basilica to pay homage on January 2 (REUTERS)
Faithful queuing outside St Peter's Basilica to pay homage on January 2 (REUTERS)

Thousands of faithful and curious people continued to arrive on Tuesday to view his body lying in state in St Peter’s Basilica, with many queuing before dawn to pay their respects.

Twelve hours of viewing are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday morning’s funeral mass, which will be led by Pope Francis, at St Peter’s Square.

It will be the first time a current pontiff has officiated at the funeral of a former one.

The basilica’s doors opened before daybreak on Tuesday and among those paying respects was six-year-old Miriam Groppelli, who is an altar server in her parish in Milan.

People pray at Pope Benedict‘s lying in state on January 3 (Getty Images)
People pray at Pope Benedict‘s lying in state on January 3 (Getty Images)

She and her father Giuseppe, 40, travelled by train in the early hours to pay homage, along with Miriam’s grandparents and older brother and sisters.

“I told her his story and she was really excited to come to Rome to say goodbye,” Mr Groppelli said.

“Benedict has been very important for the Church, his speeches were so clear and beautiful, he leaves a great legacy of knowledge.

“We came here to express our gratitude to him but also to God who send him to us.”

He offered his take on the arrangement that saw Benedict‘s retirement in the Vatican City monastery where he died on Saturday, and Francis, who was elected in 2013 by fellow cardinals to succeed him.

People queue at St Peter's Square on January 3 (REUTERS)
People queue at St Peter's Square on January 3 (REUTERS)

“I believe there’s no real war or competition within the church and between popes,” he said. “The church lives and grows every day, also thanks to their words.”

Benedict, who as German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had served for decades at the Vatican as the church’s guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, was known for his theological knowledge as well as for eloquent speeches, which – unlike many of his predecessors – he wrote himself.

Francis will eulogise his predecessor at the funeral on Thursday, which the Vatican has said will be marked by the simplicity that Benedict requested.

Since Benedict was no longer head of Vatican City State, only two countries – Italy and his native Germany – will send official delegations to the funeral, unlike with previous popes who died when they were reigning.

Political leaders and royalty, especially of predominantly Catholic countries, will attend in a private role.