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Friday, April 08, 2005

John Paul II Buried in Grottos

Pope's Grottos Will Open for Public Viewing

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This picture released by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano shows cardinals praying in front of the tomb of late Pope John Paul II in the grottos of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, after a mourning Mass, Tuesday, April 12, 2005. On Wednesday, the public will be able to visit John Paul's simple tomb, placed in the ground and covered by a plain white marble slab etched with his name and the dates of his pontificate. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

— The tomb is a white slab of marble with gray streaks, tucked into an arched alcove, a leafy potted lily at the top and a small red candle burning at the bottom. A marble relief of the Madonna and Child hangs on the wall.

Pope John Paul II's name and the dates of his 26-year pontificate are carved with gold in Latin script on the front: "IOANNES PAVLVS PPII." And on another line is the date, using the Roman numerals for the month: "16 X, 1978-2 IV, 2005."

Underneath is the interlocking X and P the monogram for Christ.

On Wednesday, the Vatican will reopen the grottoes under St. Peter's Basilica to the public, giving tourists and the faithful a first look at the late pope's tomb, tucked into its own private niche just steps from the supposed burial place of the first pontiff, St. Peter.

Journalists got a glimpse of the grottoes Tuesday ahead of the public viewing, which was to begin at 7 a.m. and is sure to draw thousands of people back to St. Peter's Square. The piazza had all but emptied in the days following John Paul's funeral Friday, which drew some 500,000 people to the square and main boulevard leading to it.

John Paul specified in his will that he wanted to be buried "in the bare earth, not a tomb" and that he wanted his tombstone simple, like that of Paul VI. His wishes were granted.

His burial plot is one of only a few dug in the ground in the central nave of the grottoes, the vast series of low-ceilinged chapels and alcoves under the basilica where popes over the centuries have been buried.

Most of the popes are ensconced in aboveground marble sarcophagi, some of them like that of Benedict XV and Pius XI elaborately carved in the images of the man inside.

John Paul's tomb, on the other hand, is spare. It sits in an arched alcove to the right of the main altar of the central nave.

The alcove lies just a few steps from two of the four women buried in the grotto: Queen Christine of Sweden, who died in 1689 after abdicating and converting to Catholicism; and Queen Charlotte of Cyprus, who died in 1487 after taking refuge in Rome under papal protection following her ouster.


Jerusalem Post

The College of Cardinals resumed its pre-conclave discussions about the state of the Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday as the Vatican prepared to open the grottos beneath St. Peter's Basilica to the public for the first time since Pope John Paul II was laid to rest there.

Starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, the public will be able to visit John Paul's simple tomb, placed in the ground and covered by a plain white-marble slab etched with his name and the dates of his pontificate.

Cardinals were expected to visit the tomb as a group on Tuesday evening following the fifth of nine Masses of mourning for John Paul, celebrated by Brazilian Cardinal Eugenio Sales de Araujo.

On Monday, that duty fell to American Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in December 2002 for mishandling a clergy sex abuse scandal. A couple of protesters objecting to the honor the Vatican bestowed on him were escorted away from St. Peter's Square by police.

The Mass is celebrated with the participation of the entire College of Cardinals, in front of thousands of pilgrims and is broadcast live on Italian television. By its very nature it raises the profile of whoever leads it.

The homily delivered during the daily ritual also is closely scrutinized for signals indicating how the cardinal may vote in the upcoming conclave to choose a new pope or what his priorities might be.

Law's homily focused on John Paul's faith and his devotion to Mary. "In these incredible days, the pope continues to teach us what it means ... to be a follower of Christ," Law said, reading slowly in Italian. "Our faith has been reinforced."

So far, the cardinals have been careful to abide by a pledge of silence regarding all things related to the conclave, which begins Monday. However, at the end of Monday's meeting, Indian Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil was quoted as telling the APcom news agency he thought John Paul's successor would be chosen quickly.

"We'll have John Paul II's successor in a couple of days, maximum three," he was quoted as telling APcom. "In my opinion, it will be a rather short conclave, at least it seems to me these are the prospects."

On Monday, the Vatican reported the cardinals had discussed some church finances during their meeting, and had also asked priests around the world to urge "intense prayers" from their flocks so that the Holy Spirit helps guide cardinals to choose a new pope.

The cardinals waved to reporters Tuesday morning as they headed into their meetings.

Outside in St. Peter's Square, special edition Vatican stamps went on sale Tuesday. The "vacant see" stamps mark the period between John Paul's death and the election of his successor, and are expected to be snapped up quickly by collectors.

The Vatican also released a video giving outsiders a peek at the conclave where a new pope will be selected by the 115 cardinals who are under age 80 and thus eligible to vote.

The video offers a tour of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the cardinals will stay during the conclave, and of the frescoed Sistine Chapel, where the voting occurs.

The former residence, which John Paul ordered redone in 1997 to accommodate the cardinals, looks a bit like a convention center, with floors of white marble and potted plants. Cold and impersonal as it is, it's a big step up from the cramped quarters in the Apostolic Palace where the cardinals slept in previous conclaves.

The video ends with a view of the stove, dusty and full of ashes, where the ballots are burned. Black smoke emerging from the Sistine Chapel's chimney signals no pope has been elected, and white smoke announces a new pope has been found.

John Paul II Buried in Grottos

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The grottos where John Paul II will be buried form a cramped underground cemetery beneath St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican where pontiffs throughout the ages, royals and even an emperor have been laid to rest.

Adorned with mosaics, frescoes, sculptures and crypts, the grottos lie at the very heart of Christianity, near the site of St Peter's burial.

They are part of underground layers that also include ancient Christian sarcophagi and relics from an ancient basilica upon which St Peter's has been built.

John Paul's entombment on Friday will follow a funeral Mass in St Peter's Square that is expected to draw heads of government and state, including US President George W Bush, as well as millions of pilgrims. It will be a ceremony filled with centuries-old traditions and elaborate rituals.

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The pontiff expressed a wish to be buried in the ground, as opposed to being placed in an above-ground tomb, Archbishop Piero Marini, the Vatican's master of ceremonies for liturgical celebrations, said.

A white silk veil will be placed on John Paul's face, while a prayer is read, Marini said. The pontiff will be clad in liturgical vestments and will wear his white bishop's mitre on his head.

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The body of the Pope is placed inside three coffins encased within each other. After the funeral, the first wooden coffin will be placed in a zinc coffin, which will in turn be placed in a massive wooden casket. The zinc coffin and wooden casket are meant to slow down the decomposition process.

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Buried with the pope will be a small bag of commemorative medals issued over the course of his 26-year pontificate, as well as a sealed document featuring a brief description - in Latin - of John Paul's life.

After the funeral, the Pope's body is carried by through the "door of death" on the left side of the main altar in St Peter's Basilica. A single bell is tolled.

Stairs near the St Longinius' statue near Bernini's canopy lead to the grottoes - a low-ceiling, crammed space made of narrow passageways that lies between the level of the existing basilica and that of the old Constantine one.

Along a corridor are several crypts housing various pontiffs' tombs, mostly marble sarcophagi topped by sculptures of the dead popes. Queen Cristina of Sweden, who abdicated her throne after she converted to Catholicism, and Emperor Otto II are also buried there.

John Paul's place in the grottos will be the crypt where Pope John XXIII lay before he was brought up onto the main floor of the basilica. John XXIII, who died in 1963 and was one of the most loved popes of modern times, was moved after his 2000 beatification because so many pilgrims wanted to visit his tomb.

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Being lowered into the grotto

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Unlike the ornate sarcophagi in which many of John Paul's predecessors were laid to rest, the pontiff's tomb will be a simple stone slab featuring his name, as well as dates of birth and death. It will be similar to the tomb of Paul VI, who died in 1978.


Il Roggito
The biographical sealed document buried with John Paul II.
CNN Translation

Death, Deposition and Burial of Giovanni Paolo II of Holy Memory

In the light of Christ risen from the dead, on April 2 in the year of the father 2005, at 21:37 in the evening, when Saturday was coming to a close, and we were already entered into the day of the Father, the Eighth day of Easter and the Sunday of Divine Mercy, the loved Pastor of the Church, John Paul II, passed from this world to the world of the Father.

All of the church accompanied his transition in prayer, especially the youth. John Paul II was the 264th Pope. His memory remains in the heart of the Church and the entirety of humanity.

Karol Wojtyla, elected Pope 16 October, 1978 was born in Wadowice, a city 50 kilometers from Krakow, on 18 May 1920 and was baptized two days later in the parochial Church of the priest Francesco Zak.

At nine years of age he received the first communion and at 18 years of age the sacrament of confirmation. His studies interrupted, because occupying Nazi forces had closed the university, he worked in a quarry and, then, in a chemical factory in Solvay.

From 1942, feeling the call of priesthood, he frequented training courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow.

On the first of November 1946 he was ordained to priest in the hands of Cardinal Adam Sapieha. Then he was sent to Rome, where he took a license and a doctorate in Theology, his thesis was entitled "Doctrina de fide apud Sanctum Ioannem a Cruce."

He returned to Poland where he had pastoral assignments and taught the sacred disciplines.

July 4, 1958, Pope Pio XII nominated him auxiliary Bishop of Krakow. And from Paul VI in 1964 he was destined to (to stay in) the same seat as Archbishop. As such he participated in the Vatican II Council.

Paolo VI made him Cardinal June 26, 1967. In the Conclave he was elected Pope by Cardinals October 16, 1978 and took the name of Giovanni Paolo II (John Paul II).

On October 22, the day of the Father, he solemnly began his Petrine ministry. The pontificate of John Paul II was one of the longest in the history of the Church.

In that period, under various aspects, many changes were seen. The falling of many regimes took place, to which he himself contributed. With the goal of announcing the Gospel he made many trips in various nations.

John Paul II exercised the Petrine ministry with a tireless missionary spirit, dedicating every ounce of his energy to the "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum" and of the charity open to all of humanity. More than any predecessor he met the People of God and the Head of Nations, in celebrations, in general audiences and in the special pastoral visits.

His love for youth led him to begin the "International Youth Days" convoking millions of young in various parts of the world.

He successfully promoted dialogue with Jews and representatives of other religions, bringing them together to pray for peace, especially in Assisi.

He notably enlarged the College of Cardinals, creating 231 (plus one in pectore).

He convened 15 Sinod Assemblies, 7 ordinary general ones and 1 special.

He erected numerous Diocese and districts especially in Eastern Europe.

He reformed the Codici di Diritto Canonico Occidentale ed Orientale (Western and Oriental Cannon laws), he created new institutions and reorganized the Roman curia.

As "sacer manngnus" he exercised the liturgical ministry in the Roman diocese and in the entire world, in complete faith with Vatican II council.

He promoted in an exemplary mode the life and spiritual liturgy and contemplative prayer, especially the Eucharistic adoration and the prayer of the holy Rosary (cfr Lett. ap. Rosarium Virginis Mariae).

Under his guidance the Church has moved towards the third millennium and celebrated the Great Jubilee of 2000, according to the lines indicated in the apostolic Letter "Novo millennio ineunte," in which he showed the faithful the walk towards the future.

With the Year of Redemption, The Marian Year and the Eucharist Year, he promoted the spiritual renovation of the Church.

He gave extraordinary impulse to the canonization and beatifications, to show innumerable examples of the saintliness of today that motivated the men of our times.

He proclaimed Saint Teresa of Baby Jesus the Doctor of the Church.

The doctrinal majesty of John Paul II is very rich. Custodian of the faith, he acted with knowledge and courage to promote the catholic doctrine, theology, moral and spiritual, and to contrast, during all of his Pontificate tendencies contrary to the genuine tradition of the Church.

Among principal documents: 14 encyclopedias 15 Apostolic Exhortations 11 Apolostic Constitutions 45 Apolostic letters In addition to the Catechisms proposed during the general Audiences and to the allocations pronounced in every part of the world.

With his teaching, John Paul II confirmed and illuminated the Population of God on the theological doctrine, above all in the three great Encyclopedias -- "Redemptor hominis", "Dives in misericordia, Dominum e vivificantem), anthropological and social (Laborem exercens Encyclopedias, Sollicitudo rei socialis, Centesimus annus), morale (Encicliche Veritas splendor, Evangelium vitae), ecumenical (Enciclica Ut unum sint), missionary, (Enciiclica Redemptoris missio), Marian teachings (Enciclica Redemptoris Mater).

He promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the light of tradition, authoritatively interpreted by he Vatican II Council. He also published volumes privately. His body of work culminated in the Elastic Encyclopedia of the Eucharist.

John Paul II left to all a testimony of mercy, of the holy life and universal paternity.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!

~~Aileen Mehle~~

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