Wow 65,000 Visit the Body of Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican and Details about the Transfer

On Twitter, the Vatican reported that 65,000 (UPDATE after the 3 days the number was up to 200,000) people the body of Pope Benedict XVI lying in St. Peter's Basilica. The retired pope's body was transferred from the monastery to the basilica today. Consecrated women who cared for Pope Benedict XVI in his retirement touched his hands before his body was carried on a stretcher to a van for its final journey to St. Peter's Basilica.

The women were members of Memores Domini, who were alongside Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the pope's personal secretary, and Dr. Patrizio Polisca, his physician. They prayed the Our Father and the Hail Mary in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery beside the body of Benedict XVI on January 2nd before walking to the basilica behind the van.

The procession left the monastery in the Vatican Gardens at 7 a.m. while it was still dark.

At the Door of Prayer on the south side of the basilica, 10 papal gentlemen dressed in tails carried the body of the retired pope, who died Dec. 31, into the basilica.

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, welcomed the body into the church with a rite of reception a simpler one than the rite used when St. John Paul II died in 2005.

Rather than being accompanied by all the cardinals present in Rome, as for the transfer of St. John Paul's body, the small congregation in St. Peter's Jan. 2 included Pope Benedict's "family" -- Archbishop Ganswein and the Memores Domini -- the priests who serve as canons of the basilica and the Conventual Franciscans who hear confessions in the church.

The Vatican press office used the term "translation" of the body to describe the process of moving it from the monastery where the retired pope had lived.

As Pope Benedict's body was carried to a platform in front of the basilica's main altar, the men of the Sistine Chapel choir led the chanting of the litany of saints in Latin, including the line, "All Roman pontiffs, pray for him."

They also chanted a litany of prayers to God, ending with the plea, "Have mercy on him."

When the pallbearers had set the late pope's body down, Cardinal Gambetti blessed it with holy water and with incense.

One of the women read, in Italian, from Jesus' prayer to God in the Gospel of John that his disciples would be with him and see his glory "because you loved me before the foundation of the world."

"I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them," the passage concluded.

Cardinal Gambetti told those gathered for the early morning rite, "Dear brothers and sisters, we raise fervent prayers to God the father that he would welcome the departed pope emeritus into his eternal dwelling and increase our faith in the resurrection of the dead."

The rite included prayers for Pope Francis "and all pastors of the church of East and West," for the deceased pope, for the world and for the mourners.

After the singing of the Lord's Prayer and the recitation of the concluding prayer, Cardinal Gambetti went to the body and kissed Pope Benedict's hands.

While the ceremony ended quietly, and the basilica opened to the public 90 minutes later with 65,000 coming to visit.

Edited from USCCB/CNS and Vatican News