The body of Francis Cardinal Spellman was taken to Saint Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue in New York City (3 December) where it will lie in state until burial Thursday (7 December).
The body of Francis Cardinal Spellman was taken to Saint Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue in New York City (3 December) where it will lie in state until burial Thursday (7 December). Cardinal Spellman headed the New York Roman Catholic archdiocese and was the Vicar General of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Cardinal Spellman, who was 78, died of a stroke Saturday (2 December) at Saint Vincent's hospital in New York. The bronze-lined coffin of African mahogany arrived at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Cathedral at 6:15 PM Sunday. It was taken into the church under crossed swords held by 12 Knights of Columbus members wearing white-plumed hats. (The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic lay fraternal society.)
The Most Reverend John Maguire, who is temporarily administering the archdiocese, met the open coffin inside the church and began the service by sprinkling the Cardinal's body with holy water and blessing it.
A procession of clergymen in purple and black mourning vestments preceded the coffin and volunteer members of the New York City Police and Fire Departments. in an honour guard, followed it down the Cathedral's 186 foot long haven. A group of 60 relatives and friends of the Cardinal walked behind the coffin and then took seats in front pews.
Votive candles lighted by hundreds of mourners flickered along the church's walls. The cathedral was filled to capacity with several thousand mourners.
Cardinal Spellman's body was clad in white liturgical vestments and a scarlet skullcap. A golden cross lay on his chest and a bishop's ring was on his right hand.
The coffin was placed on a black-draped catafalque, surrounded by six tall candles, in the centre aisle in front of the main altar.
After the Cardinal's body was in place, the cathedral's bells tolled and eight bishops and ten other prelates gathered around the altar to concelebrate a requiem mass during which a choir chanted the responses. Concelebration, a form of offering mass jointly by more than one priest, has recently been revived by the Roman Catholic church. It is thought to have been a common practice in early Christianity.
After the mass, thousands of mourners began walking slowly past the catafalque, to pay their last respects. Many were crying. Priests in the crowd, made the sign of blessing the body.