Pope Francis Contemplating Resignation, Plans to be Buried Outside the Vatican at Basilica of St. Mary Major

Pope Francis, who recently made a significant recovery from a bad bout of pneumonia, has reportedly started making detailed funeral plans. The 86-year-old pontiff expressed his wish to be buried in the Rome basilica of St. Mary Major rather than in the grottoes of the Vatican, in order to be near his favorite icon of the Madonna.

According to sources, Pope Francis has firmly decided to be interred near his beloved icon and has made it clear that he does not want to be buried in the traditional location used for other popes. The news of his thoughtful funeral preparations comes just before the Pope’s 86th birthday, as he insists that he had no thoughts of resigning this year despite his recent health scares.

Although a trip to Belgium has been confirmed for next year, other possible visits to Polynesia and his native Argentina are being carefully considered. In a recent interview with Associated Press, he expressed that all his journeys are being rethought and reconsidered due to his declining health. His confirmation for next year’s trip comes after his hospital internment for acute bronchitis, which forced him to cancel a trip to Dubai earlier this month.

During the interview, Pope Francis also mentioned the possibility of resignation and stated that he needs to prepare for any eventuality as the pope. He said, “I ask the Lord to say enough, at some point, but when he wants me to.” He further confirmed that if he were to retire like Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he would want to live outside the Vatican in Rome in a residence for retired priests. Pope Francis has emphasized his role as Bishop of Rome and has a special devotion to the icon of the Virgin Mary displayed in the St. Mary Major basilica near Rome’s main train station.

As a Byzantine-style painting, the Salus populi Romani holds deep significance for Pope Francis, who visits the basilica and prays before it upon returning from every trip. His spiritual devotion is evident as he talks about his great attachment to the icon and his decision to be buried nearby in the basilica, emphasizing that the place is already prepared.

Despite two bouts of bronchitis and hospitalization earlier this year to repair an abdominal hernia, Pope Francis remains determined to pursue his duties as the Pontiff. Notably, the planned visit to Belgium is to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the country’s two main Catholic universities. The decision to visit Belgium has been welcomed by the bishops, with a date still to be determined.

Pope Francis also shares a unique connection with St. Mary Major basilica, which is the final resting place of Pope Pius V, who ruled the church from 1566 to 1572. Both popes are set to be interred in the same liturgical space, highlighting the timeless essence of the Catholic faith and tradition.

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