Pope's Body Displayed at Vatican's Apostolic Palace

Pope's Body Displayed at Vatican's Apostolic Palace
Associated Press

Vatican City -- Pope John Paul II's body was displayed at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on Sunday, and Vatican television showed the pope's remains clad in crimson vestments, his head covered with a white bishop's miter.

The powerful images gave the world its first glimpse of the late pontiff since his last public appearance Wednesday. John Paul died Saturday evening at 84 after suffering heart and kidney failure following two hospitalizations in as many months.
Two Swiss guards stood at attention on either side of the body, which was placed in front of a fireplace in the palace's Clementine Hall adorned with the Vatican coat of arms, a crucifix standing to one side and an ornate candle burning on the other.
John Paul's head rested on a golden pillow, his arms folded and a bishop's staff tucked under his left arm.
Prelates and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi were among those who stood in line to pay their respects. John Paul's longtime personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, was among those who stopped at the pope's feet for a moment of reflection.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the late pope's vicar for Rome, prayed on his knees by the pope's body.
A message and prayers were read in Latin by the Vatican camerlengo, or chamberlain, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo of Spain. The viewing also was carried live on Italy's other television stations.
The remains of the 84-year-old pontiff, who died Saturday evening, were put on display at 12:30 p.m. for officials of the Roman Curia, authorities and the diplomatic corps.
The body will be transferred from the Apostolic Palace on Monday afternoon for public viewing in St. Peter's Basilica.
The Vatican said the ancient ritual of the confirmation of the death and the certification of death was carried out at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
In the past, the ritual had involved tapping the pope's head three times with a silver hammer, but the last version of the official Vatican document outlining the procedures makes no mention of the silver hammer, saying only that the camerlengo "must officially ascertain the pope's death."

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Pope John Paul II Facts
  • John Paul II's official titles include "Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ", "Successor of Saint Peter", "Prince of Apostles", "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church", "Patriarch of the West," "Primate of Italy", "Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province," and "Sovereign of Vatican City." The United States Catholic Conference says the current "Holy Father" refers to himself as "Supreme Pastor of the Church."
  • Born Karol Joseph Wojtyla (Voy-tee-wah) in Wadowice, Poland, Pope John Paul II is the first Slav to head the Roman Catholic Church, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, the youngest pope in a century, and the first since Pius II in the 15th century to be a "man of letters." He also has among the most interesting biographies. Before his ordination as a priest, he was a member of an experimental theater group, a stonecutter, a published poet, and a chemical company boiler-tender.
  • The elder Karol Wojtyla (1879-1941), a former foundry worker, reared his namesake son in religious piety and strict discipline, sometimes requiring him to study in cold rooms so as to harden him.
  • "Daredevil," is how the Archdiocese of Newark describes the athletecism of the Pope's youth. Possibly the most athletic Pope in history, John Paul II in his youth played soccer as a goalie, took daring swims in the flooded Swaka River, and enjoyed skiing, hiking, mountain climbing and kayaking.
  • Pope John Paul II may be the only Pope whose life was portrayed in a comic book. In 1983, Marvel Comics published a Pope biography.
  • No other Pope has traveled as extensively as Pope John Paul II. His world travels have taken him to 117 countries and every continent excluding Antarctica.
  • Pope John Paul II has survived numerous accidents and an assassination attempt. As a young man during the German occupation of Poland, he was hospitalized twice, after accidents involving a streetcar and a German army truck. He suffered severe wounds in May, 1981, when shot by Mehmet Ali Agca as he entered St. Peter's Square to address an audience. In 1992, a benign intestinal tumor was removed; in 1993, a fall in Vatican quarters injured his shoulder; in 1994, he broke his thigh bone in another fall, forcing him to cancel his planned trip to New Jersey.
  • The Pope is so revered by area Catholics that would-be worshippers have gone to sometimes bizarre extremes to get a hold of the limited number of tickets to his tour's four Papal Masses. "People are offering exotic vegetables, the chance to sing for him and even a spaghetti dinner," Sister Thomas Mary Salerno, chancellor of the archdiocese of Newark, told the Religious News Service. "It's just been overwhelming."

Source:  Coop's Amazing Facts