By NBC News analyst
updated 4/8/2005 5:09:29 AM ET 2005-04-08T09:09:29

Here is a detailed look at the funeral rites that will be observed Friday for Pope John Paul II.

Before the Mass
Before the Mass, the pope's body will be taken from the bier and placed in a cypress coffin.

The coffin will then be closed in the presence of the Cardinal Camerlengo , Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo of Spain, and the senior cardinal in each of the "orders" of cardinals .  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany will represent the cardinal bishops .  Representing the cardinal priests will be Cardinal Stephen Sou-hwan Kim of South Korea or Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales of Brazil.  Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez of Chile will represent the cardinal deacons .  Also present: Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, the archpriest of St. Peter's ; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the secretary of state; Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the cardinal vicar for the Diocese of Rome; Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the sostituto (deputy) secretary of state, who functions as a papal chief-of-staff; Archbishop James Harvey, the prefect of the Papal Household; Archbishop Oscar Rizzato, the almoner of the pope in charge of papal charities, Archbishop Paolo Sardi, the vice camerlengo; representatives of the canons of St. Peter's; and Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late pope's longtime personal secretary.

The body is blessed with holy water, a white silk cloth is placed over the pope's face and a small bag with coins minted during the pope's reign is put into the coffin to aid identification in the future if necessary.

Cardinal Martinez Somalo offers a prayer, and then reads a legal document recording the pope's life and works, which all present then sign, while singing "My soul thirsts for God, the living God; when will I come and see the face of God?"

This document is sealed in a metal tube and placed in the coffin; a second copy is deposited in the Vatican archives.

While the coffin is closed and secured, those present sing Psalm 42: "Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul in longing for you, my God."

The coffin is then taken into St. Peter's Square and placed on a simple catafalque. In 1978, the open Book of the Gospels was laid on the coffin, along with a white pall , a reminder of the pope's white baptismal garment.

The Mass begins
Cardinal Ratzinger presides as dean of the College of Cardinals. All the other cardinals are vested and "concelebrate." The Mass begins with a Latin chant: "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him"; this chant accompanies the singing of Psalm 64: "To you, O Lord, praise is due in Zion."

Cardinal Ratzinger then offers the opening prayer or "collect" (so-called because it "collects" or gathers up the prayers of the congregation): "O God, father and shepherd of humanity, look upon your family gathered in prayer, and grant that your servant and our pope, John Paul II, who has presided over the Church in the love of Christ, may enjoy, with the flock he led, the reward promised to faithful ministers of the Gospel. [We pray this] Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God, and lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen."

The Liturgy of the Word
The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles: The passage recounts one of Peter's early sermons emphasizing God's desire that all humanity be saved.

The responsorial psalm is then sung: Psalm 22, "My shepherd is the Lord; nothing indeed shall I want."

The second reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians: "Our homeland is in heaven, and from there we expect that Christ will come as savior to transform our wounded body to conform to his glorious body."

The Gospel antiphon and chant announce the proclamation of the Gospel: "Alleluia. This is the will of my Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life. Alleluia."

The Gospel reading follows: John 21.15-19, in which the Risen Christ asks Peter whether he is capable of a greater love than any of his fellow apostles.  Before his became pope, John Paul II — then Cardinal Wojtyla — preached a famous sermon on this text.

Cardinal Ratzinger then gives the homily . This is not a eulogy, but a reflection on the Scripture just proclaimed.

The "Prayer of the Faithful" [General Intercessions] follows; the invocations will be in multiple languages: For the deceased pope; for the Church; for all the peoples of the world; for all deceased priests and bishops; for all the faithful departed; for all those present; a concluding prayer by Ratzinger.

The Eucharistic liturgy
Bread and wine are brought to the altar and offered .

Cardinal Ratzinger then recites the "prayer over the gifts:" "Father of infinite clemency, may this liturgy, which your servant and our shepherd, John Paul II, celebrated for the salvation of your people while he was among us, be for him now the source of pardon and peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen"

The Eucharistic Prayer then follows: the consecration of the bread and wine into what Catholics believe to be the body and blood of Christ, using the words of Christ at the Last Supper; this lengthy prayer (during which some other concelebrating cardinals may take the lead — a normal custom) ends with the "Great Amen."

Then everyone recites the the Lord's Prayer — an important ecumenical moment in the service, in that all the visiting Christian leaders, and indeed all Christians present, will join.

Then the Sign of Peace is exchanged by the concelebrating cardinals. The congregation is invited to exchange the sign of Christ's peace with each other although there is no specification of this in the ritual, and it may be omitted.

During the brief preparation for communion, while the Eucharistic bread is being broken, the chant "Agnus Dei" ("Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us") is sung.

Holy Communion is then distributed, while the communion chant is sung: Psalm 129 ("Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your voice be attentive to the sound of my pleading ... for with you, Lord, is mercy and forgiveness, and so we revere you."

Cardinal Ratzinger then recites the Prayer after Communion: "O God, who at this eucharistic table have let us taste the first fruits of the eternal banquet, grant that your servant and our pope, John Paul II, may enter with all the saints into the full possession of the truth, in which, with apostolic courage, he confirmed his brethren. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Final commendation and commitment
Cardinal Ratzinger invites all to pray for the deceased pope, and that the Church, especially in Rome, may be "consoled with the light of the Resurrection."

Then follows "The Prayer of the Church of Rome," which takes the form of the chanted Litany of the Saints, with most of those named being Roman saints and martyrs. This concludes with a prayer by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Ruini, asking that God give his servant John Paul the just reward of faithful servants of the Gospel.

Then follows the "Prayer of the Oriental [Eastern Rite Catholic] Churches." This is an innovation, emphasizing the unity of the Catholic Church, which is primarily Latin-rite but includes those eastern-rite Churches in communion with Rome (the largest of which is the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine). This will be led by the colorfully clad eastern Catholic patriarchs, and takes the form of a lengthy series of intercessions, chanted in Greek by a deacon, to which the "choir" of eastern Church leaders responds, "Lord, have mercy." The eastern Church leaders then incense the coffin and offer more prayers.

The concluding rite: Ratzinger blesses the coffin with holy water (another reminder of baptism) and incenses it while the choir sings a Latin hymn: "I believe that the Lord is risen and lives"; Ratzinger then offers the closing prayer: "Merciful Father, we commend to your mercy our pope, John Paul II, whom you made successor of Peter and pastor of the Church, intrepid evangelist of the Gospel, and faithful dispenser of the divine mysteries. Bring him, we pray, into the sanctuary of heaven, to enjoy eternal glory with all the saints. We give you thanks, Lord, for all the gifts which in your goodness you have given your people. To the Church, bereft of its Shepherd, give the comfort of faith and the strength of hope. To you, Father, source of life, in the vivifying Spirit, through Christ, conqueror of death, be all honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."

Then follows the concluding chant: "May the angels accompany you to paradise, may the martyrs greet you at your coming, and may they lead you to the holy Jerusalem. May all the angels welcome you; and with Lazarus, who was poor on earth, may you possess the eternal rest of heaven."

Procession to the crypt and interment
While the coffin is being carried to the crypt , the Magnificat (Mary's canticle from the Gospel of Luke — "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord") is chanted. Other chants will include Psalm 113 (antiphon: "May Christ welcome you to paradise"); Psalm 117 (antiphon: "Open to me the gate of justice; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord"); and Psalm 41 (antiphon: "In the splendid company of the saints, I will go to the house of God."

The coffin will be carried down to the crypt through the St. Martha's door of St. Peter's. In the crypt, those involved include: the camerlengo, Cardinal Martinez Somaolo, who presides, vested in a red cope; Cardinal Ratzinger, the senior cardinal bishop;  Cardinal Kim or Cardinal Sales, Cardinal Martinez Somalo; the archpriest of St. Peter's, Cardinal Marchisano; Cardinal Sodano, the secretary of state; Cardinal Ruini, the vicar for Rome; Archbishop Sandri, the sostituto; Archbishop Harvey, the prefect of the Papal Household; Cardinal Sardi, the vice camerlengo; representative canons of St. Peter's; what is described as the papal "family," which includes Dziwisz, the Polish nuns, Angelo the valet, Buzzonetti the doctor; and the papal master of ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini, who will have been leading everyone concerned through all of the above.

The camerlengo invites prayer, and a deacon leads a series of intercessions for the deceased pope, to which all respond "Lord, have mercy."

All then say the Lord's Prayer.

The camerlengo then prays again for the deceased pope, concluding with the familiar formula, "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen."

The cypress coffin is then bound with red ribbons, on which are the lead seals of the Apostolic Camera (the Camerlengo's office), the Prefecture of the Papal Household (which runs the pope's public schedule), the canons of St. Peter's, and the Office of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies.

This bound coffin is then placed in what the ritual describes as a "zinced" elm casket.  The zinc casket is immediately soldered closed, and the pope's coat of arms are soldered to the top before it's placed inside the elm casket.

While the now-triple casket is being lowered into the crypt, all sing the famous Marian chant, "Salve, Regina" ("Hail, holy queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope").

The notary of the chapter of canons of St. Peter's then reads to those present the legal document certifying the pope's burial in this spot; this is signed by a delegate of the Camerlengo and a delegate of the Prefect of the Papal Household; one copy of the document is signed with the camerlengo as witness, the other with the prefect as witness.


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