Story By Oleen Ndori, Foreign Desk Editor
Catholics have begun to pay their respects to former Pope Benedict the 16th, whose body will lie in state for three days at St Peter’s Basilica before his funeral.
The German theologian, who died on Saturday aged 95, led the Catholic Church for eight years before becoming the first Pope in six centuries to step down in 2013.
His successor Pope Francis will lead the funeral on Thursday in the vast St Peter’s Square, before his remains are laid to rest in the tombs beneath St Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict died at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery inside the Vatican Gardens, which had been his home for the past decade.
The Vatican on Sunday released photos of his corpse, dressed in red papal mourning robes and wearing a gold-edged mitre on his head, on a catafalque in the monastery chapel.
The Vatican is yet to release details of the guest list, beyond saying that it will include delegations from Italy and Benedict’s native Germany.
Pope Francis paid tribute to Benedict in three New Year’s events at the Vatican over the weekend, thanking God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and of the Church.