May 30, 2024

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Pope Francis does not want to appear conspicuous after death

Pope Francis does not want to appear conspicuous after death

“With dignity, like any Christian, but not on pillows,” is how Pope Francis wants to be buried.

He explains this in the interview book “The Caliph,” which was released earlier this month. Regarding the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on New Year’s Eve 2022, the Pope says in the book:

“It was the final vigil where the Pope’s body was placed on a coffin outside the sarcophagus.”

So Francis will simplify the funeral rituals. In the future, deceased popes will be buried “like all children of the Church.”

Reform in keeping with tradition

German Vatican Ulrich Nersinger says the reform is in line with Paul VI. “Pope Paul VI reformed the papal funeral rites toward greater simplicity consistent with the Gospel.” He points out the big difference between funerals John xxiii And Paul VI. John XXIII was the last to be buried in all his splendor: “Vice-president Máxima Pompa”.

The relatively simple funeral of his successor Paul VI in 1978 showed that simplicity can also be very generous. German church historian Jorg Ernesti Reminiscent of a simple cypress box.

“The magnificent image of the coffin with the open Gospel book, its leaves moving in the wind, became the model for later papal funerals.”

Say goodbye to the body

The visual presentation of the deceased is a disappearing custom in our time. Although there are exceptions. Brazilian football legend Pellet He was placed in an open coffin before his funeral in 2023, so that many fans could bid farewell to their idol. Bodybuilder, actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger He announced a few years ago that he would like to lie in state in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna after his death.

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Vatican nersinger wonders whether Pope Francis is showing little compassion for Catholics for whom visiting the body is part of their farewell. According to him, the focus of mourning at the funerals of popes is not on the individual, but on the deceased as the pope. He therefore regards the abolition of visible revelation as a “privatization of the papacy.” Moreover, in this way another aspect of farewell also disappears from view: the manifestation of the transience of human life.


From the interview book, it can be concluded that the motivation behind the Pope's decision is that he does not want to glorify his person. For example, he explains that he wants to be buried in a storage room in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

The Pope says: “Directly behind the statue of the Queen of Peace there is a door leading to a small room used to store candlesticks.” “I saw it and thought, 'This is the place.'

source: Catholic (German)