Pope Francis presides over funeral for Pope Benedict XVI as thousands mourn

Pope Francis has honoured his predecessor Benedict XVI, presiding over a rare requiem Mass for a dead pontiff by a living one in front of thousands of mourners in St Peter’s Square.

Bells tolled and the faithful applauded on Thursday morning as pallbearers carried Benedict’s cypress coffin out of the fog-shrouded basilica and rested it before an altar.

Francis, wearing the crimson vestments typical of papal funerals, then took his place and opened the Mass with a prayer.

Heads of state and royalty were among those mourning on Thursday.

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