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Pope Wojtyła in St Peter’s

In preparation for his Beatification, John Paul II’s tomb in St Peter’s Basilica’s was opened on Friday, 29 April, and his casket was removed. Present at the brief but moving ceremony, were Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, other important Vatican figures, Sr Tobiana Lucyna Sobótka and the sisters of John Paul II’s household who had looked after him.

Fr Federico Lombardi, sj, Director of the Holy See Press Office, reminded journalists at a press conference that Pope John Paul II had been buried in three coffins: the first of wood, the second of lead, which is sealed, and the third, which encases the first two. The third coffin was the one seen when the tomb was opened.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, then led the singing of the litany as a short procession accompanied the casket, covered with a gold embroidered pall, to the main altar, the Confessio, above the burial place of St Peter in the Basilica. It remained there until Sunday morning, 1 May, so that pilgrims and the faithful could pray before it after the Beatification Mass.

Indeed, after the Beatification Benedict XVI, followed by cardinals, knelt in silent veneration before the coffin. The faithful then filed past in prayerful silence into the early hours. They had a further opportunity to venerate the new Blessed’s mortal remains on 2 May after the thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in St Peter’s Square.

On Monday evening St Peter’s was closed to the public. At about 7:15 p.m. the casket was taken to its final resting place beneath the altar in the Chapel of St Sebastian in the Basilica.

The new headstone is made of white marble with the inscription: Beatus Ioannes Paulus pp. II. Since Tuesday, 3 May, the faithful have been able to venerate the remains of John Paul II there.

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 14, 2019

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