The story behind the image hanging at Benedict XVI’s funeral 

 

Benedict XVI’s coffin exits St. Peter’s Basilica beneath an image of Christ’s resurrection on the morning of his funeral Jan. 5, 2022 / Evandro Inetti/CNA

Vatican City, Jan 5, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

A large banner of the resurrection of Christ provided the decorative backdrop to the altar during Benedict XVI’s funeral on Thursday.

The image, which hung in front of the central entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, appears to be a copy of an 18th-century tapestry belonging to the Vatican.

According to Vatican News, the original tapestry is made from wool, silk, and silver threads, and dates to 1783–1784.

The textile is part of the Vatican’s collection of art and hangs in the Apostolic Palace, in the Apartments of the Papal Representative. It was woven by Giuseppe Folli from a cartoon by Pier Paolo Panci after “The Resurrection” by Anthony van Dyck, who died in 1641.

Benedict XVI may have also been fond of the image, which shows the resurrected Christ exiting the tomb with his arm raised in triumph.

A close-up of the banner hanging on St. Peter’s Basilica. Alan Koppschall/CNA
A close-up of the banner hanging on St. Peter’s Basilica. Alan Koppschall/CNA

The image frequently hung behind the Bavarian pope when he gave addresses from the balcony of his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo.

One such occasion was April 5, 2010, when he prayed the Regina Coeli for Easter Monday.

Benedict XVI spoke about the term “angel,” noting that during Eastertide, our thoughts go to Christ’s tomb and the announcement by angels that “he is risen.”

“But,” he said, “the angel of the Resurrection also recalls another meaning.”

Besides meaning the “spiritual creatures endowed with intelligence and will, servants and messengers of God, it is also one of the oldest titles attributed to Jesus himself,” Benedict said, citing Tertullian, who said that Christ is the announcer of the “great design of the Father for the restoration of man.”

As the angel of God the Father, Jesus Christ “is the Messenger par excellence of his love,” Benedict XVI said.


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