JOHN PAUL II'S FUNERAL IS ON FRIDAY
Vatican, Apr. 04 (CWNews.com) - The
funeral of Pope John Paul II will be held in St. Peter's Basilica on
Friday morning, April 8, at 10 in the morning, Rome time. (4am ET)
The cardinals who will manage the affairs of the Holy See through
the transition between Popes met for the first time on Monday, April
4, to make immediate arrangements for the funeral, and for the
public veneration of the remains of Pope John Paul. After that
meeting the director of the Vatican press office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls,
After convening for the first time in the Bologna Room of the
apostolic palace, the 65 cardinals now in Rome scheduled the
procession in which the body of John Paul II will be brought into
the Vatican basilica for public veneration. That procession will
begin on Monday afternoon at 5, with Cardinal Eduardo Martinez
Somalo-- the camerlengo -- leading a prayer service as the
procession forms in the Clementine Hall, and a Liturgy of the Word
when it arrives in the basilica.
By 8 this evening, the Pope's remains will be placed on the Altar of
Confession, and the faithful will be admitted to pay their last
respects. Many thousands of people are expected to visit the
basilica during the next few days. The cardinals announced that St.
Peter's will be open for most of the night, shutting down only from
2 to 5 in the morning for maintenance.
The funeral on April 8 will be concelebrated by all the cardinals
gathered in Rome, with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presiding in his
role as dean of the College of Cardinals. At the conclusion of the
funeral, the body of Pope John Paul will be buried in the grotto of
St. Peter's basilica. He will be laid to rest in the spot where
Blessed John XXIII was buried in 1963. (The remains of Blessed John
XXIII were moved from the grotto to the basilica itself after his
beatification in September 2000.)
Although the funeral of a Roman Pontiff is a very solemn ceremony,
the ritual has been simplified considerably in recent decades. Pope
Paul VI was buried simply, according to his own preference; his
coffin was placed in the earth, on a red carpet, rather than on the
elaborate catafalque that had been used previously. Pope John Paul
I, who succeeded Paul VI and died after just over one month, was
buried using the same rite.
John Paul II set down the procedures for electing a new Pope, with
some precision, in his apostolic constitution Universi Domini Gregis
in February 1996. The same document includes some directives for the
papal funeral. Relatively little is known to the public about any
personal directives left by John Paul II regarding his burial, aside
from his overall preference for simplicity.
Vatican officials will be confronted with serious protocol issues,
however, as they plan the funeral. At least 17 delegations are
expected from other Christian bodies, as well as 2 Jewish
organizations. And there will be political representatives, too--
from 107 states and 10 international organizations.
As the funeral begins, the cardinals who will concelebrate the
liturgy will line up for the entry procession in order of
precedence-- with cardinal-bishops followed by cardinal-priests,
then cardinal-deacons. They will file slowly, accompanied by
Gregorian chant, as they move through the apostolic palace and out
into St. Peter's Square to enter the basilica through the main
doors. The dean of the College of Cardinals-- Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger, who served John Paul II for years as prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith-- will be principal
celebrant and will preach the homily.
After the final prayers-- again led by Cardinal Ratzinger-- a small
procession will proceed to the grotto. There another small ceremony,
steeped in Vatican traditions, will take place.
The master of pontifical ceremonies, Msgr. Piero Marini, will read
the offical notice of the burial, which is then notarized by the
dean and sealed in a lead tube, which is placed in the coffin. The
coffin itself is then closed, formally sealed with the stamps of
three officials: the camerlengo (Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo),
the archpriest of the Vatican basilica (Cardinal Francesco
Marchisano), and the prefect of the pontifical household (Bishop
James Michael Harvey). The coffin is then placed in a lead coffin,
which in turn is surrounded by an oak frame-- which the faithful
will see when the visit the grotto.
When the burial is completed, the pontificate is officially ended,
and the papal apartments at the apostolic palace are closed off and
sealed until the arrival of the new Roman Pontiff. The aides who
have assisted John Paul II will move to new quarters; the late
Pope's personal possessions will be removed and distributed
according to the terms of his will.
EWTN will provide live coverage.