Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pope's Funeral and the Veil

Follow-up: The Funeral and the Veil
ROME, APRIL 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

In the wake of recent questions about the papal funeral (see April 12 and 19), a reader from Burbank, California, asked: "I was wondering why Pope John Paul II had the cloth/veil placed over his face prior to the closing of the coffin and the significance of this action."

The short answer is "I don't know." This was the first time this rite was performed on a deceased Pope, and he had approved the new rite of burial for popes, so I can only surmise that the Holy Father wanted it that way.

Perhaps it is a Slav custom made as a sign of respect. It certainly evokes a strong sense of finality and of parting from this world. But there were no official explanations given as to the reasons behind the gesture.

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