Pope Francis presides over farewell to Benedict

STORY: Pope Francis presided at the funeral of former Pope Benedict on Thursday (January 5).

Giving an homily that compared his predecessor to Jesus before tens of thousands of mourners at St. Peter's square.

"Gracious Father, we commend to your mercy Pope Emeritus Benedict, whom you made successor of Peter and shepherd of the Church, a fearless preacher of your word and a faithful minister of the divine mysteries."

Benedict's death on Saturday (December 31) ended an unusual decade of the former and present pope living side-by-side in the Vatican.

Benedict shocked the world by resigning nearly a decade ago, the first pope to do so in 600 years instead of reigning for life.

But he remained a hero to Catholic conservatives.

As pallbearers carried the coffin away, cries of "Santo Subito!" or Saint Now! arose from the crowds.

People from all over the world, many from Benedict's native Germany, had arrived overnight to say farewell.

Clergy, thousands of faithful and just a handful of world leaders, because when Benedict died he was no longer head of state.

"Well, it's kind of sad the news about the death of the pope but of course, it was a beautiful celebration and I think it represents a lot about his life and what he expected, a simple celebration but very beautiful."

About 200,000 people filed past Benedict's body while he was lying-in-state until Wednesday (January 4) evening.

An account of Benedict's papacy, and items including Vatican coins minted during his reign, were tucked into the coffin.

Written in Latin, the account says he "fought with firmness" against sexual abuse by clergy in the Church.

But some critics, including victims, have accused him of seeking to protect the Church at all costs.

Francis, who arrived in a wheelchair troubled by a bad knee, has made clear he wouldn't hesitate to step down one day if his health prevented him carrying out his duties.

But Vatican officials doubted he could do this while Benedict was alive.

Benedict will rest in the underground Vatican grottoes at his own request.