The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Saturday at the age of 95 was not unexpected. During an audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis asked for prayers for Benedict’s health and stated that Benedict was “very sick.”
Benedict stepped down in 2013, citing age and ill health, making him the first pope to do so since the 1400s, when they typically serve until death.
In 2005, Benedict officiated at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, the last pope to die. An estimated 300,000 people flocked to St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, while millions more watched on large television screens in public squares throughout Rome.
If you’re planning to attend the former Pope’s funeral, here are a few things you should know.
What are the plans for Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral?
According to the Vatican, Pope Francis will officiate at Benedict’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday, an unprecedented event for a current pope officiating at a funeral for a former pope.
Is a visa required to visit Italy?
No. According to the US State Department, US citizens can stay in Italy for up to 90 days without a visa, but they must complete a declaration of presence.
Visitors must also have valid travel documents when entering the country, and passports must be valid for at least three months after leaving the Schengen area. They will also require “proof of sufficient funds and a return plane ticket,” according to the department.
Is there any COVID-19 entry requirements for US travellers in Italy?
In general, no. The remaining coronavirus entry restrictions in Italy were lifted in June, but as of Wednesday, the country had implemented requirements for all inbound travellers from China, including testing before and after arrival, according to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The rules will remain in effect until January 31, but they do not apply to children under the age of six and others who do not have symptoms, such as crew members or diplomats.
Travelers who test positive while in Italy must self-isolate for five to 14 days “depending on the specifics of the case,” according to the United States Embassy and Consulates in Italy.