INCLUDING 200 HEADS OF STATE, ATTEND POPE'S FUNERAL
CITY, APR 8, 2005 (VIS) - Before the start of the funeral Mass today
for John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in the presence of an
estimated 300,000 people, including over 200 heads of State and
government, the deceased Pope's body was placed in a cypress casket
and closed in the presence of a number of witnesses.
Among those present for this rite
were Cardinals Martinez Somalo, camerlengo of Holy Roman Church,
Angelo Sodano, former secretary of state, Joseph Ratzinger, dean of
the College of Cardinals, Camillo Ruini, vicar for the diocese of
Rome, Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and
Archbishops Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Holy Father's personal secretary
and James Harvey, prefect of the Papal Household.
The cardinal camerlengo introduced
the rite of the closing of the casket. Archbishop Piero Marini,
master of papal liturgical ceremonies, then read the "Rogito," a
summary of the life of the Pope, copies of which were signed by
those present. An antiphon and psalm were sung, followed by silent
prayer. The master of ceremonies than placed a veil of white silk
over the head of the deceased and the cardinal camerlengo sprinkled
the body with holy water. The master of ceremonies then placed a bag
with some medals coined during the pontificate of the deceased and a
lead tube containing the original copy of the Rogito in the casket.
As the casket was closed, Psalm 41 was recited.
The casket of John Paul II was
brought to St. Peter's Square in procession, placed on a carpet on
the ground in front of the main alter and a book of Gospels was
placed on top of the casket and opened. The procession included the
College of Cardinals and the patriarchs of the Oriental Churches,
all in red vestments, who kissed the altar before taking their
places. Mass was presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and
concelebrated by 164 cardinals.
Millions of people who had come to
Rome for John Paul's funeral but who could not be accommodated in
St. Peter's Square itself, watched the ceremony on 27 giant screens
placed throughout the city, including at the two football stadiums,
Tor Vergata University, the Circus Maximus, the basilicas of St.
John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls,
Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Risorgimento near the Vatican, the
Colosseum and Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading to
St. Peter's Square.
Many of those in St. Peter's Square,
at various times during the Mass, called out for John Paul II to be
proclaimed a saint. These calls, accompanied by sustained applause,
began as Cardinal Ratzinger finished his homily A number of banners
could be seen with the words "Santo Subito" (a saint immediately)
and "John Paul II the Great" and one, with his papal crest, saying
"Pope John Paul II - saint."
Following the prayer after communion
Cardinal Ratzinger proceeded to the rite of the final recommendation
and act of committal, standing by the casket of John Paul II.
Cardinal Ruini then stood next to the casket, the cantors sang the
Litany of Saints and the cardinal vicar then concluded the
supplication of the Church of Rome with a prayer and returned to his
At this point the patriarchs and
archbishops major and metropolitans of the Catholic Oriental
metropolitan Churches "sui iuris", went to the casket and, facing
the altar, recited the supplication of the Oriental Churches from
the Office of the Dead of the Byzantine liturgy. Everyone present
prayed in silence and Cardinal Ratzinger sprinkled holy water on the
remains while the choir sang a response.
The casket of John Paul II was then
brought into the Vatican Basilica to the place of burial as the
faithful sang the Magnificat. Those present earlier at the closing
of the casket accompanied it into the basilica. John Paul II was
brought to the grotto area of St. Peter's Basilica for burial in a
rite presided over by the cardinal camerlengo.
The cypress casket with the mortal
remains of John Paul II was tied with red ribbons on which were
placed the seals of the Apostolic Camera, the Prefecture of the
Papal Household, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the
Supreme Pontiff and the Vatican Chapter. The cypress casket was then
placed in the zinc and wood caskets which were soldered shut and
covered with the seals of the aforementioned offices. On the top are
the cross and coat-of-arms of John Paul II. The notary of the
Basilica Chapter verified the act of burial and read it to those
Attending today's funeral Mass for
the Holy Father were reigning monarchs of 10 countries, 57 heads of
State, 3 hereditary princes, 17 heads of government, the heads of 3
international organizations and representatives from 10 others, 3
spouses of heads of State, 8 vice heads of State, 6 vice prime
ministers, 4 presidents of parliaments, 12 foreign ministers, 13
ministers, and ambassadors from 24 countries.
Religious delegations, numbering 140
people, included representatives from the Orthodox Church, Oriental
Orthodox Churches, Churches and ecclesial communions of the West,
international Christian organizations, the National Association of
Evangelicals, representatives of Judaism, Islam and delegations from