THOUSANDS of people are expected to pay their respects to former Pope Benedict XVI when his lying in state begins at the Vatican on Monday. 

He died on New Year’s Eve aged 95 at his Vatican residence. The former pope stood down in 2012, becoming the first in his position to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Pope Francis will preside over Thursday’s funeral, which will mark the first time a pope will be buried by his successor. 

The Vatican says the service will be simple, solemn and sober. The body will be displayed for three days in an open casket at St Peter’s Basilica, with people able to pay their respects until 7pm each evening. 

READ MORE: Channel arrivals rocket as UK Government fails to process applications

The funeral will then take place in St Peter’s Square, before the Pope Emeritus is laid to rest in the tombs beneath the Basilica. 

The Vatican has already released pictures of the body dressed in red papal mourning robes and a gold-trimmed mitre. 

Tributes have poured in from around the world, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and a leading Scottish archbishop

Sturgeon said she was “sad to hear of the death of Pope Benedict” and described his visit to Glasgow in 2010 as a “very special moment in the life of our nation”.

The last papal funeral, that of Pope John Paul II in 2005, was one of the largest Christian gatherings in history with around four million people heading to Rome for the event. 

US President Joe Biden lauded the former pope’s “lifetime of devotion to the Church” while in Brazil, the world’s largest Catholic nation, newly sworn in President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he wished “comfort to the faithful and admirers of the Holy Father”. 

Security officials expect at least 25,000 people to pass by the body on the first day of viewing.