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WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS WHEN A POPE DIES?

The death of the Bishop of Rome is marked by a series and sequence of rites and rituals that have been observed since the Early Centuries.

When the Pope dies,the camerlengo is notified and immediately he assumes the position of the Supreme Pontiff until the Cardinals gather in Rome to elect the new Pope.(This is in the case the Pope dies while in Office).

The Pope has to be burried between the 4th and 6th day of his death.The official mourning period is nine days in which different Cardinals preside over the celebration of Mass.

Traditionally the head of the Pope would be hit with a hammer as his baptismal name is called out. If the Pope did not respond then he would be confirmed dead.

The Papal ring (fisherman’s ring) is removed and crushed to mark the end of the Pope’s reign.This is also done to avoid forgery of documents in the Pope’s name.

The Papal apartment is completely sealed with wax to avoid looting of Papal documents after his death.The Pope is then clothed in red vestments as red is the customary color of mourning Popes.

The Pope’s body is placed in three coffins, the first one is made of cypress and this signifies that he was an ordinary man just like any other person.

The next coffin is made of Zinc(traditionally lead would be used) which signifies durability and on it a Cross is placed. The Pope’s name and reign of Papacy is inscribed on it.

Finally both coffins are placed in the third one made out of walnut (traditionally elm was used but due to its scarcity around Rome it’s nolonger used). This shows the dignity of the office of the Pope.

The final/third coffin is hammered with pure gold nails. The Pope is buried in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The people can see the tomb of the Pope at the Basilica where many Pope’s have been burried since the rarly centuries.

Traditionally some organs of the Popes could be taken for burial and sent as relics in other places.bHowever, Pope Pius X abolished this customary practice in the Early 1900s.

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005 the Vatican denied that his heart would be sent to his native home Poland as a relic according to the request of his people.

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