After the death of Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, December 31, his body was laid at St Peter’s Basilica for viewing from Monday 1 until Thursday 5 when he will be buried.
Here are seven rituals that must take place before the Pope is buried.
1, The funeral takes place at the main altar or outside St Peter’s square. According to amcatholic4life.com, the Pope’s body is placed inside three consecutive coffins. Cypress coffin, Lead (zinc) coffin and Elm coffin.
2, The first coffin is the Cypress coffin which is the innermost coffin. It symbolizes that the Pope is an ordinary man just like everyone else. Inside the coffin along with the Pope’s body is a bag of gold, silver and copper coins.
The number of coins in each bag equals the number of years he was a Pope. The cypress coffin is wrapped and sealed with three silk ribbons before being placed inside the Lead coffin.
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3, The next coffin is the lead coffin. when the cypress coffin is placed inside it, it is soldered shut. The lead coffin has a Cross, the Pope’s name and his years of papacy engraved on it.
4, The last is the Elm (oak) coffin which represents the dignity of the Pope. The lead coffin which contains the cypress coffin is placed inside the Elm coffin. This coffin is nailed shut using gold nails.
A Pope can specify where he wants to be buried when he dies but normally Popes are buried under the main altar of St Peter’s Basilica beside St Peter’s tomb.
5, After the funeral, the pallbearers carry the coffin through the Basilica door of death. The bell is rung once to mark the beginning of the burial.
6, The coffin is lowered into the marble sarcophagus and a big stone slab is used to cover it.
7, After his burial, a nine-day period of mourning known as novemdiales in Latin begins. The burial follows a funeral Mass, presided over by the dean of the College of Cardinals.
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