By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Final preparations are underway in Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II on Mercy Sunday, including the transporting of his casket from the Vatican crypt to a place of honor in front of the tomb of St. Peter.
Thanks to RomeReports.com, a video of the transfer of the casket shows the late pope’s secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz, along with the nuns who were in charge of the pope’s domestic service, kissing the casket as it was solemnly lifted out of the tomb in the Vatican crypt. The simple wooden coffin was covered with a white and gold drape and then placed in front of the tomb of St. Peter where it will remain until after the beatification ceremonies.
The body itself will not be exhumed until after the beatification when it will be taken to Saint Sebastiano chapel, next to the Pietá of Michaelangelo. Just a few days ago, the remains of another beatified pope, Inocencio XI, were at that same site., but were transferred to another area of the Basilica. The remains of John Paul II will be permanently entombed under this altar, covered with a gravestone that says: “Beatus Ioannes Paulus II. ”
This was one of the most important preparations made this week for the beatification that is expected to draw as many as two million people. At least 100,000 pilgrims from the John Paul’s native Poland have already poured into the city, including several who walked to Rome just to give thanks for the gift of their beloved pope.
Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski will be present at Sunday’s beatification ceremony, as well as former president Lech Walesa. Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland, remained behind and will spend the day in John Paul’s hometown of Wadowice in southern Poland where about 20,000 people are expected to watch the events live in the town’s main square.
The pilgrims watched in excitement as final preparations for the ceremony got underway this week, including the draping of the facade of St. Peter’s in the largest image of John Paul II ever created.
An exhibit chronicling the life of John Paul II will open today in St. Peter’s Square. Called the “John Paul II: Homage of Benedict XVI for the Beatification,” it consists of 15 sections illustrating the life and pontificate of Karol Wojtyla. Exhibits contain scenes and details of his life, from his infancy and childhood in Wadowice to the day of his funeral in Rome on April 8, 2005.
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