Thousands of people have already filed past the tomb of Pope Paul in the crypt of St.
Thousands of people have already filed past the tomb of Pope Paul in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. Pope Paul was buried on Saturday (12 August) after a funeral service outside in St. Peter's Square. 8,000 security men were on duty, but there were no incidents.
SYNOPSIS: Pope Paul's triple coffin was carried by twelve pall-bearers into the square for the funeral service. According to traditions, the Pope's body lay inside a wooden coffin, sealed inside a middle casket of lead. These were inside a third coffin of knotted cypress, so everyone could see that the Vicar of Christ, as the Pope is known, went to his grave as other men - in a wooden box. The coffin was placed on a carpet in front of a temporary altar, placed on the steps outside the huge doors of St. Peter's Basilica.
The funeral was held outside, the first time ever for a Pope, because of the number of people expected to attend. One hundred thousand people watched in St. Peter's Square and millions around the world followed the ceremonial on television.
The Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who later this month will elect a successor to Pope paul, filed out of the cathedral to kiss the altar. Then they resumed their places at the top of the steps for the service. Three Italian members of the Sacred College of Cardinals led the mourners. The service, save for a few special prayers, was the same as for any Catholic.
Pope Paul who died on the sixth of August, had asked in his will for the minimum of formalities. He had specified the site of his grave in the crypt of St. Peter's and the plain stone which should cover it. But a large number of dignitaries did attend his funeral. They included two Heads of State, two Princes, five Vice-Presidents, and six Prime Ministers. The wives of President Carter, and of President Marcos of the Philippines were there too.
In a brief sermon, Pope Paul was described as a prince of peace, a voice speaking out in defense of truth and justice, condemning violence, upholding the rights of people for peace. Quoting Christ, Cardinal Confalonieri said "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord".
The service was to be allowed by a period of mourning, after which the cardinals start, on August the 25th, the process of choosing a new Pope.