Pope Francis has chosen to be buried in a basilica in Rome rather than in St. Peter’s Basilica like his immediate predecessors.
This means that he will become the first pope to be buried outside of the Vatican for more than 100 years. He revealed the location during a recent interview on Wednesday December 13.
“The place is already prepared. I want to be buried in Santa Maria Maggiore,” the pontiff, who turns 87 this weekend, told Mexican broadcaster Televisa’s N+ streaming service.
The last person to shy off a burial place in St Peter’s was Leo XIII, who passed on in 1903. His remains parts lie in the basilica of St John the Lateran in Rome.
One of Rome’s four papal basilicas is Santa Maria Maggiore, whom Francis described as having a “bond” with.
Since his ascension in 2013, he prays there before and after taking a trip, and has also prayed there after undergoing surgery.
Seven popes have recently been let go in the basilica, as per the Vatican News official news source.
The pontiff has suffered increasing health problems as of late, and had to drop a visit to COP28 climate talks in Dubai because of bronchitis.
He thanked his predecessor Benedict XVI for having “the courage” to step down when his health was failing in an interview that was recorded on Tuesday. He appeared to be in much better health at the time.
The German pontiff in 2013 became the first pope since the Middle Ages to resign.
Benedict died on December 31, 2022, and after a funeral in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican led by Francis his body was buried in the tomb under the church.
It was the same tomb that held former pope John Paul II’s body before it was moved for his beatification in 2011.
Francis has said he would be open to following Benedict’s example if he could no longer perform his duties, but has said stepping down should not become a “normal thing” for popes.