Pope Benedict laid to rest

The Requiem Mass of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.(Photo: Vatican)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was laid to rest on Thursday with a Requiem Mass in St Peter's Square. 

Some 50,000 mourners gathered in the square to say farewell to Pope Benedict who died on New Year's Eve aged 95.

Pope Francis presided over his funeral with the Gospel reading for his homily taken from Luke 23:46, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

Arriving at the funeral in a wheelchair, Pope Francis prayed that his predecessor's joy would be complete meeting the Lord face-to-face in Heaven. 

Commending Benedict into the hands of the Father, he said, "May those merciful hands find his lamp alight with the oil of the Gospel that he spread and testified to for his entire life."

He continued, "God's faithful people, gathered here, now accompanies and entrusts to Him the life of the one who was their pastor.

"We want to do this with the same wisdom, tenderness and devotion that he bestowed upon us over the years. Together, we want to say: 'Father, into your hands we commend his spirit.'

"Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever!"

It is the first time in centuries that a living pope has presided over the funeral of a deceased pope.

Guests at the funeral included Belgium's Queen Mathilde and King Philippe, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender.

Benedict succeeded Pope John Paul II in 2005 and served as pope until 2013 when he stepped down due to advancing age and health issues. 

He spent the years of his retirement in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City. 

Days before his death, Pope Francis had asked the faithful for "special prayer" for Benedict after an "aggravation" in his health condition due to old age. 

Following his death, Pope Francis paid tribute to Benedict as a "kind" and "noble" man of faith.