To the great surprise of most people present, the retired pope entered St. Peter’s Basilica about 15 minutes before the new cardinals and Pope Francis. Wearing a long white coat and using a cane, he took a seat in the front row next to Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict’s presence at the consistory Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of Peter, marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public prayer service in the basilica. Pope Benedict resigned Feb. 28, 2013, becoming the first pope in almost 600 years to do so.
Before taking a seat and beginning the service, Pope Francis walked over to Pope Benedict, who removed his zucchetto to greet Pope Francis. The scene was repeated at the end of the consistory.