Skip to comments.Papal Funeral Will Follow Ancient, Unique Rite
Posted on 04/06/2005 9:30:40 AM PDT by marshmallow
Vatican, Apr. 06 (CWNews.com) - The funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II (bio - news) will be held in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday morning, April 8, at 10. The details of the unique ceremony-- which is expected to last 3 hours-- are laid out in the apostolic constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis , promulgated by Pope John Paul in 1996.
That document, setting the procedures for the burial of one Pontiff and the election of a successor, stipulates that a Pope's funeral, should be held between 4 and 6 days after his death. Pope John Paul died in the evening of April 2, so his funeral will occur on the last day of that period. The Catholic Church has a special rite for the burial of a Roman Pontiff. As dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (bio - news) will preside at the funeral Mass.
A massive congregation is expected. More than 200 world leaders have already announced their plans to attend, and the city of Rome is bracing for a crowd that could number up to 5 million people. Giant video screens have been set up on the roads around the Vatican, so that the ceremony can be seen by the vast majority, who will not be able to enter the Vatican basilica.
The funeral Mass is preceded by a short ceremony in which the Pope's coffin is seal. First the body of the deceased Pope, which has been lying on public view in the basilica, will be placed in a cypress coffin. After a short period of prayer, the master of liturgical ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini, and the late Pope's private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, will draw a white silk cloth over the Pope's face. Then the camerlengo, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, will bless the body with holy water.
Next Archbishop Marini will observe an old Vatican tradition, putting a small purse into the coffin at the Pope's feet, containing specimens of the coins that were struck by the Vatican during his pontificate. Then the coffin will be sealed, in the presence of several official witnesses: among them will be the camerlengo, Cardinal Martinez Somalo; the archpriest of the Vatican basilica, Cardinal Francesco Marchisano; the vicar of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini; the former Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (bio - news); his sostituto or deputy, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri; the prefect of the papal household, Bishop James Michael Harvey.
The funeral itself will then begin with a solemn procession, including the lectors, clerics, and deacons who will participate in the ceremony, as well as the cardinals and patriarchs who will concelebrate-- virtually all of the cardinals who are present in Rome. The procession will enter the Vatican basilica slowly, accompanied by Gregorian chant. The coffin will be placed on the floor in front of the main altar. The Paschal candle will burn beside it, a symbol of the Resurrection. There will also be a large crucifix, and an open Bible.
The concelebrating prelates, vested in red, will assemble behind the altar, facing the congregation. To one side, near the altar, will assembled the secular dignitaries attending the service, seated according to diplomatic protocol: the heads of state and heads of government, members of the diplomatic corps, and representatives of international organization. Opposite them, on the other side of the altar, will be the representatives of other religious groups, as well as the priests and religious of the Vatican basilica.
After the Mass, in which Cardinal Ratzinger will deliver the homily, the German cardinal will lead the final prayers for John Paul II. After circling the coffin with holy water and incense, he will read the prescribed prayers of the ritual: the commendation of the soul of the deceased Pontiff. This prayer is followed by the Litany of the Saints. Then the members of the hierarchy-- patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, metropolitans, and bishops-- file past the coffin to pay their final respects.
The coffin is then carried to the place of burial, in the Vatican grottos, in another procession, accompanied by the singing of the Magnificat. This is a much smaller procession-- due in part to the limitations of space in the grottos. The participants will roughly the same people who witnessed the closing of the coffin: the top-ranking prelates of the Holy See, officials of the Vatican basilica, and members of the Pope's household.
The camerlengo leads the burial service, another rite surrounded with Vatican tradition. First the Pope's cypress coffin is wrapped in red ribbons, which are imprinted with the seals of the pontifical household. Then the coffin is placed within another metal coffin, which is immediately sealed. This metal coffin, engraved with a cross and the late Pope's coat of arms, is then deposited into a third, oak coffin.
The notary of the Vatican basilica then reads the formal notice of the burial, in the presence of the witnesses. The camerlengo and the prefect of the pontifical household sign the document, formally certifying the burial.
John Paul II will be buried in the ground, in the oratory of St. Longinus, near the spot where St. Peter's tomb is located. His grave will be marked by a simple, inclined, marble marker bearing his name.
The ritual for the burial of a Pope includes three "stations." The first, to be held "in the house of the deceased Pontiff," includes the certification of death, the exposition of the body for veneration by prelates (which has already taken place in the Clementine Hall of the apostolic palace), and a first series of prescribed prayers. The second "station," in the Vatican basilica, includes the procession to St. Peter's and the funeral Mass. The burial service is the third and final "station."
Uh, I had heard that the Mass will be held outdoors, in the plaza, if the weather permits.
Very interesting - thanks for posting, marshmallow.
Do you know if every pope makes such arrangements for his funeral or did John Paul II just revamp the whole funeral process for all popes?
I also heard something about Mass being on the steps.
Wonder who will represent the USA at Prince Ranier's services?
You beat me to it. Yes, send Carter. His bags are already packed.
Sorry, Tex; there aren't any plazas in Rome.
Cardinal Ratzinger will deliver the homilyPerfect.
" which is expected to last 3 hours "
Clinton slept during Reagan's funeral- how is he going to stay awake for 3 hours ??!!
Prince Ranier deserves better.
I've been down in those grottos. Pretty cramped space. I don't think that they are open to the public anymore. I was there in 1968. Was able to go all the way down and all the way up to the top of cupulo and be within touching distance of the Pieta. None possible now.
I meant St. Peter's square. I had heard that the ceremony would be held in the square.
Thanks for posting this information
About the Magnificat
The Magnificat [Latin: magnifies], also called the Canticle of Mary, is recorded in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55). It is the Virgin Mary's joyous prayer in response to the Angel Gabriel's annunciation to her that she will become the mother of the Son of God. This great hymn forms part of the Church's prayer in the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours). When it is recited as part of the Divine Office, it is followed by the Gloria Patri ("Glory be"). The traditional sung Magnificat is Latin plainchant. One of the hymn's most glorious musical renditions is the version of the Magnificat by J.S. Bach.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Magnificat as "the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church" [CCC 2619], and explains this prayer's significance:
Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the Incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, His Body. In the faith of His humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance He had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to Thy word". "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly Gods' because He is wholly ours. [CCC 2617]
The Magnificat appears below both in English and in Latin.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
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Probably more appropriate to call it a plaza anyway... St. Peter's square is not square.
LOL! Especially when it will be 4am EDT.