Thousands more, including Hungary's Orban, bid farewell to Benedict

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[1/3] Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban pays homage to former Pope Benedict in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, January 3, 2023. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

VATICAN CITY, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Thousands more people, including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, paid homage to former Pope Benedict on Tuesday on the second day that his body lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica.

Orban, the first head of government to pay their respects following Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, stood with his wife before Benedict's body for a few moments in prayer.

The Vatican said about 25,000 more people visited the body by noon on Tuesday, following the 65,000 who visited on Monday.

Among them was Rome resident Loredana Corrao, who said she was a great admirer of the pope, who was a towering figure as an academic and a hero to conservatives but also a controversial leader who did not tolerate theological dissent.

"It was a fitting tribute. It was very emotional and moving. I also came yesterday but I had things to say to him and I also came today," she told Reuters.

"I am sure that an important part of the Church's history has closed and now we have to move on without him," she said.

Pope Francis has been carrying on his normal workload since Benedict died. He has a regular series of audiences and meetings on Monday and Tuesday and will hold his weekly general audience on Wednesday.

The death on Saturday of Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down instead of reigning for life, could make any decision to step down easier on Francis and the Church, which encountered difficulties with having "two popes".

Francis will preside at Benedict's funeral in St. Peter's Square on Thursday before a crowd that Vatican police say will be in the tens of thousands.

THREE COFFINS

Because Benedict was no longer a reigning pontiff when he died, official delegations have been limited to those from Italy and his native Germany.

Among those expected to attend in a private capacity are the presidents of Poland and Hungary and the monarchs of Spain and Belgium.

Benedict has been laying in state without any papal regalia, such as a crosier, a silver staff with a crucifix, or a pallium, a band of wool cloth worn around the neck by popes and archdiocesan bishops to signify their roles as shepherds of their flocks. Popes are also bishops of Rome.

The decision not to have them during the public viewing appeared to have been decided to underscore that he no longer was pope when he died.

The liturgy for Thursday's funeral Mass will be based mostly on that for a reigning pope, with some modifications, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

Three palliums would be placed in Benedict's coffin along with coins and medals minted during his years as pope and a sealed lead tube holding a deed written in Latin describing his pontificate.

As is traditional for popes, Benedict's body will be placed in a cypress coffin which will be carried out of St. Peter's Basilica and into the square for the funeral.

Later, that one will be placed into a zinc coffin and then both will be placed into another coffin made of wood.

Benedict will be buried according to his wishes in the same spot in the crypts under St. Peter's Basilica where Pope John Paul II was originally interred in 2005 before his body was moved up to a chapel in the basilica in 2011.

Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Raissa Kasolowsky

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