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Pope Francis says he will not be buried in the Vatican, he has prepared a tomb in the Basilica of St. Mary the Magnificent. – Magazine Creations

Pope Francis announced in a recent interview that he plans to be buried outside the Vatican.

The pontiff told Mexican broadcaster Televisa’s N+ news service that he has arranged to be buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria Major in Rome.

“The place is already prepared,” Pope Francis told the report, saying the basilica where he regularly prays before foreign trips is his “great devotion.”

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Pope Francis marks the feast of the Immaculate Conception by donating three golden roses to the ancient Roman icon of “Maria Salus Populi Romani” (Our Lady of Health of the Roman People) in the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary the Great. (Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

While the Pope says he is recovering from his bout with severe bronchitis, he notes that his abilities are declining with age.

“It is true that all travel has now been reviewed,” Pope Francis told the agency about travel abroad. “If they’re close, they can be done. If they’re further away, they’re reconsidered. There are limits.”

He does not intend to retire like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, reiterating his belief that the papacy is meant to be a post until death – but says he is waiting for God to decide when his reign will end.

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Basilica of St Mary Major

Pope Francis celebrates Corpus Domini after a procession from St. John in the Lateran Basilica to St. Mary’s Basilica for the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ in Rome. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

“I ask the Lord to say ‘enough’ at some point, but when he wants,” Pope Francis said.

Pontiffs have no claim to burial place — but since the death of St. Pope Pius X in 1914, all popes have been buried in the grotto beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

For centuries, St. Peter’s Basilica was the most common choice for enshrining dead popes, but many pontiffs have chosen churches or catacombs with which they have a more personal connection.

Icon of the Pope of the Basilica of Saint Mary

Pope Francis explained that preparations have already been made for him to be buried in the Basilica of Saint Mary, a church for which he has “great devotion”. (Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

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The Basilica of Saint Mary Major has been a spiritual home for Pope Francis since the beginning of his term.

He has stopped at the Basilica before and after most major mission trips, as well as after each hospital stint.

The basilica, which dates back sixteen centuries, has the Salus Populi Romani — an ancient icon of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus believed to be from the 6th century.

Seven popes are currently buried in the basilica.

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