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Cardinal’s “precious time” praying by Pope Benedict’s mortal remains

Catholic News
Cardinal's "precious time" praying by Pope Benedict's mortal remains

Shortly after arriving in Rome the day before Benedict XVI’s funeral, Cardinal Vincent Nichols spent some time in prayer and quiet contemplation before the body of the late Pope Emeritus

Lying in state in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict was visited by tens of thousands of pilgrims who paid their final respects and offered prayers for the repose of his soul.

“Yesterday afternoon, I was able to go into the Basilica of St. Peter’s and be in the presence of Pope
Benedict’s body to pray for him, and on behalf of many people who had asked me to join their prayers together in the presence of Pope Benedict’s mortal remains.

“It was a very simple time, and what was impressive was the movement of people as they came up the whole length of the aisle of St. Peter’s and paused ever so slightly in front of the catafalque where the body of Pope Benedict was visible.

“Everybody did the same thing. They made the sign of the Cross. They whispered a prayer and tried to take a picture with their phone. The stewards who were there were saying, “please move on, please don’t stop.”

“I believe 160,000 or more people have passed through the basilica paying their respects and praying for Pope Benedict. And that, to me, is an expression of how much he was loved.

“For me, I spent a lot of the time reflecting on my association with Pope Benedict and what I loved and appreciated about him. In a way, it was quite difficult to come away. There was a draw. I felt pulled to stay, but then eventually I had to leave. It was very precious time.

“I think how he will be remembered will be as a great scholar who wrote with clarity and simplicity, and who had a very loving disposition and capacity to make people feel welcome and part of whatever it was he was doing – the conversation or the event.

“So he’ll be remembered both for his learning, but for his warmth of heart and generosity of character.”