Vatican not rushing to judgment on John XXIII's remains
While Pope John XXIII's face was found to be perfectly preserved when his body was exhumed earlier this year, Vatican officials for the time being are not calling it a miracle.
The bishops and technicians who took part in the canonical recognition of the mortal remains of John XXIII experienced a surprise when his body was exhumed on 16 January and discovered his face had not changed since his death in 1963.
The examination was necessary after John Paul II expressed the wish that the body of the "Good Pope" be taken from its resting place in the Vatican grottoes, in the basement of St. Peter's Basilica, to an altar elsewhere in the basilica, as has been done with Pius X.
"The objective fact is that the body is preserved," said Father Ciro Benedittini, vice director of the Vatican Press Office. "However, this does not allow one to comment or hypothesize on supernatural events, which could not be corroborated by what has happened."
While awaiting its final resting place, John XXIII's body has been placed in a lead coffin. It will soon be embalmed and treated for preservation. Vatican experts hope to have more details today, when Cardinal Noe publicly presents the book "The Tombs and Funeral Monuments of the Popes in the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter."