Thousands of people lined up outside St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Monday to pay last respects to Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, who died on Saturday at age 95 and is now lying in state.
The long line — a mix of Roman Catholic faithful and tourists — moved steadily, snaking across the square in front of the basilica and along the street leading up to it under an overcast sky.
“I really wanted to give him a last goodbye,” said one mourner, Anna Angelini, 85, who hitched a 90-minute ride with a neighbor from her home outside Rome. “This pope, I hold him in my heart.”
Benedict led the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics from 2005 to 2013. He stunned the world a decade ago when he announced that he would retire, the first pope to do so in some 600 years, citing his declining physical and mental state.
He lived for another 10 years, however, residing in a secluded monastery on the grounds of the Vatican, remaining “hidden from the world,” as he had pledged to do.
Inside St. Peter’s, Benedict rested on a simple dais in front of the main altar, dressed in traditional red and white garments, his hands crossed beneath a rosary. He did not have a pallium, the vestment symbolizing the authority of archdiocesan bishops because it was “a symbol of jurisdiction which is normally not used for a retired prelate,” according to the Vatican website Vatican News. There were no other papal insignia or regalia, such as the silver staff with a crucifix.
Two Swiss Guards in their colorful uniforms stood at attention as mourners passed in front of the dais, some making the sign of the cross. The Swiss Guard protect the pope and his residence.
The speed at which the line moved made prayers necessarily brief. A group of faithful recited the Lord’s Prayer by the pope’s body, some took photographs of Benedict, but also of the main apse and the transept of the basilica, with works by the Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Luciano Ippoliti, a 61-year-old high-school teacher in Rome, knelt and crossed himself, keeping his eyes on the body as security guards urged mourners to proceed quickly.
“I said, ‘Thank you,” Mr. Ippoliti said. “I owed it to him.”