Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Speculation on Wednesday timing for funeral

There there has been no official announcement of when the ceremony will take place, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica is predicting that Pope John Paul II will be buried on Wednesday.

However it is certain the the Holy Father will be buried some time between Wednesday and Friday, the fourth and sixth days after his death, a condition laid down by John Paul II himself in 1996.

Television images gave the public its first view of the Pope since his death: lying in the Vatican's frescoed Apostolic Palace, dressed in crimson vestments and a white bishop's miter on his head. A Swiss Guard stood on either side as diplomats, politicians and clergy paid their respects at his feet.

An estimated 100,000 people turned out at St. Peter's Square for a morning Mass and thousands more -- tourists, Romans, young and old -- kept coming throughout the day, filling the broad boulevard leading to St. Peter's Basilica. They clutched rosaries and newspaper photos of the late pontiff as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder to pray for the soul of "our beloved John Paul."

The mourning began with an overnight vigil in St. Peter's Square. In keeping with Vatican tradition, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the late pope's vicar for Rome, issued a formal announcement of John Paul's death to the people of Rome early Sunday local time.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's No. 2 official, gave the homily at Sunday's Mass at St. Peter's. "For a quarter century, he brought the Gospel of Christian hope to all the piazzas of the world, teaching all of us that our death is nothing but the passage toward the homeland in the sky," he said.

The written text of Sodano's homily called the late pope "John Paul the Great," a title usually designated for popes worthy of sainthood, such as Gregory the Great and Leo the Great. Sodano did not use the title when he delivered the homily, and there was no explanation. Vatican texts, however, are considered official texts even if they are not pronounced.

After the Mass ended, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who became the pope's public "voice" in the final weeks of his life, read the traditional Sunday noontime prayer, which John Paul delivered throughout his pontificate.

Once the Mass ended, cardinals, prelates, Italian government officials and diplomats gathered in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace, where John Paul's body lay in state.

Pope's funeral 'due Wednesday' (Daily Telegraph 3/4/05)
World Gets First Glimpse of Pope's Body (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 3/4/05)


4 Apr 2005