Monday, April 11, 2005

Unadorned Coffin Evidence of John Paul's Simple Life

The Scotsman wrote:

Unadorned Coffin Evidence of John Paul's Simple Life

Pope John Paul's coffin of blonde cypress wood had no decoration other than a slender cross and the letter M for Mary on the top.

He was buried "in the bare earth" as he requested, not in a majestic marble sarcophagus like many of his predecessors.

The simple way John Paul was buried was evidence of his unostentatious style during his 26 year papacy. He left no personal property in his will, asking only that a few everyday items be distributed by his personal secretary.


The first cypress coffin, its grainy fibres visible, was placed inside a second one, of zinc, then a third of walnut - the latter two to slow down the decomposition process. The walnut coffin bears a cross and his papal coat of arms.

In other words, for theatrical purposes the Pope was paraded in an unadorned coffin but for the purposes of actual interment a more elaborate vessel was required. Yes, the story of the two (or three) coffins is dripping in symbolism.

Mmmm, "earth" so "bare" that there isn't any.


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