Funeral and Burial

Between the fourth and sixth day after death (that is, on the 5th, 6th or 7th day of the mourning period) a Solemn Funeral Mass is celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica for a deceased Pope. In John Paul II's case the funeral and burial was Friday 8 April 2005. The principal celebrant is always the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who at the time of Pope John Paul II's death was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during John Paul II's pontificate, and now Pope Benedict XVI.

The Solemn Funeral Mass is concelebrated by the other Cardinals, the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, Prelates of the Papal Household, Abbots, religious and Roman clergy. Noteworthy in the Funeral Mass are the singing of the Gregorian Introit (entrance chant) "Requiem aeternam dona eis domine" (Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord), the rite of Commendation (with the blessing and incensing of the body), and the Farewell at the end of Mass with its hymn "In Paradisum deducant te angeli" (May the angels lead you into paradise).

The deceased Pope is then buried. These ceremonies include covering the face with a veil of white silk, placing at the feet of the deceased pope a red silk bag containing bronze and silver medals from each year of his pontificate, the reading and signing of the official notification of burial, which is then inserted into a lead tube, sealed, and placed in the coffin. After the coffin is closed, it is sealed and placed in a lead coffin, which itself is sitting in an outer coffin of oak. Finally, the coffins are hermetically sealed and placed in the “ground” (that is, below the floor level of the crypt), over which is placed a marble slab bearing the the Pope’s name. Pope John Paul II was buried in the grottoes of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Requiem aeternam

Requiem aeternum dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Grant him, O Lord, eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem: Antiphon It is right, O God, to sing to thee a hymn in Zion, and in Jerusalem render thee a vow: Antiphon
Exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet. Antiphon Thou hearest our prayers, to thee all flesh must come. Antiphon
     Introit, Requiem Mass

In paradisum

In paradisum deducant te angeli:
in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
May the Angels conduct you to Paradise: And at your coming may the Martyrs receive you. May they lead you to the holy City of Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem. May a choir of Angels receive you. And may you, with Larzarus – once a poor man – Possess eternal peace.
    Antiphon, Last Farewell, Requiem Mass


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