Funeral of Pope John Paul II

Funeral of Pope John Paul II
Funeral of Pope John Paul II

The body of Pope John Paul II lying in state.
Participants The College of Cardinals (led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), various dignitaries worldwide, worldwide Catholics
Location St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Date April 8, 2005

The funeral of Pope John Paul II was held on 8 April 2005, six days after his death on 2 April. The funeral was followed by the novemdiales devotional in which the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches observe nine days of mourning.[1]

On 22 February 1996, Pope John Paul II introduced revisions to the centuries-old ceremonies surrounding papal death, repose and burial. The revisions enacted through the apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis applied to his own funeral.[2]

Pope John Paul's funeral brought together the single largest gathering in history of heads of state outside the United Nations,[3] surpassing the funerals of Winston Churchill (1965) and Josip Broz Tito (1980). Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions attended, alongside the faithful.[4] It is likely to have been the largest single gathering of Christianity in history, with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in Rome.[5] [6][7]

Coinciding with the funeral in Vatican City, archbishops and bishops at cathedrals throughout the world celebrated memorial Masses for grieving Catholics. In a historical rarity, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christian leaders, as well as leaders in Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, offered memorials and prayers of their own for their congregants sharing in the grief of Catholics.

At the funeral itself, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I attended in the honorary first seat in the sector reserved for delegations from churches not in full communion with Rome; this was the first time an Ecumenical Patriarch attended a papal funeral since the Great Schism.[8] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was present at a papal funeral for the first time since the Church of England broke with the papacy in the 16th century. Also for the first time ever, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, Patriarch Abune Paulos attended a papal funeral.


Rite of papal death

Centuries of sacred rituals are set in motion upon the death of a pope. Such rituals are administered by the Cardinal Camerlengo.

When John Paul II died, the Camerlengo Eduardo Martínez Somalo removed the Pope's Ring of the Fisherman from his finger, then ceremonially crushed it with the ceremonial silver hammer in the presence of members of the College of Cardinals.[9] This was done to prevent the creation of forged, backdated documents, which would appear to have been approved by John Paul II.

After the ring's destruction, Cardinal Martínez Somalo cordoned off and placed wax seals on the entrances to the Pope's private bedroom and study. This tradition originates from ruthless cardinals looting the papal chambers upon the death of past popes.

The Pope's formal death certificate was signed by Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, Director of the Department of Health and Sanitation of Vatican City, on the evening of his death. Cardinal Martínez Somalo then ceremonially ordered the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Joseph Ratzinger, to summon the cardinals of the world to Vatican City to elect a new pope.

While his predecessors had been embalmed after death, the Vatican claimed that Pope John Paul II was not embalmed and lay in state without normal treatment for preservation, which is evident by the grey colour taken on by the body. Also, it was customary for popes to have their organs removed after death. Pope Saint Pius X ended this practice during his reign, and the wish of some Poles that John Paul II's heart be buried in Poland was not obliged.[1]


Pope John Paul II's body was clothed in the familiar white soutane, over which was placed a plain white alb. A stole, the symbol of ordained ministry, was placed around his neck. Over the inner vestments, Pope John Paul II was clothed in a red chasuble. An ancient Byzantine custom, red is the colour of mourning for Popes. Around his collar, the pallium of white lamb's wool was draped. A white zucchetto and a white bishop's mitre adorned Pope John Paul II's head. In his arm rested Paul VI's famous pastoral cross-staff, used by popes in place of the crosier. His hands clasped a rosary.

At first, he lay in state in his favourite pair of Polish-made brown leather shoes, size 44-1/2, which he wore on his travels throughout the world. Later, following the example of his immediate predecessors, these were changed to plain red leather papal shoes.

Mass of Repose

A first Mass of Repose, such as is offered for anyone baptised in the Catholic Church, was led by Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo on 3 April 2005. That Sunday service coincided with the celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy, a memorial feast instituted by Pope John Paul II.[10]

The Mass of Repose, commemorating the sending of the soul to God, was followed by the recitation of the Regina Coeli.

Rite of Visitation

Pope John Paul II's body is laid in the Apostolic Palace for private visitation by Vatican officials and foreign dignitaries. Among the Americans in the photograph are George W. Bush, Laura Bush, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card.

The body of Pope John Paul II was dressed in his vestments and moved to the Clementine Hall on the third level (considered the second floor) of the Apostolic Palace on April 3.[1] His body was laid on a sloped olive-sheeted catafalque and his head propped on a stack of three gold pillows. Near the catafalque was a wooden crucifix and a paschal candle symbolic of Jesus Christ as the light of the world in the face of darkness and death. His body was guarded by the Swiss Guard, a corps of men which has sworn to protect the pope through several centuries. During a period of private visitation Vatican officials and a contingent of officials from the Italian government viewed the body of Pope John Paul II.

On 4 April, the body of Pope John Paul II was moved onto a red velvet catafalque, with his head propped on three red pillows. The Papal Gentlemen, regaled in black morning coats and white gloves, were chosen as pallbearers and stood along the sides of the pope's bier. Cardinal Martínez Somalo, dressed in red and gold vestments, officiated the asperges rite. He blessed the pope with the holy waters of baptism three times: to the right of the pope, at his head and then to his left. An acolyte then brought to the Camerlengo a thurible and boat. Cardinal Martínez Somalo incensed the pope three times.

By April 6, a million people had seen Pope John Paul II's remains lying in state in St. Peter's Basilica. An estimated total of four million people, in addition to the over three million residents of Rome, were expected to make the pilgrimage to see the pope.

A long procession was begun in order to transfer the body of Pope John Paul II from the Clementine Hall, through the colonnades of the Apostolic Palace and into St. Peter's Square among the waiting people. Traditionally, the pope's body is then brought to either St. Peter's Basilica or the papal cathedral, St. John Lateran Basilica. A procession of monks, priests and bishops paced slowly along a route towards St. Peter's Basilica. The College of Cardinals trailed by Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Martínez Somalo followed them.

As the ritual dating back to the medieval era proceeded, Gregorian chants were sung by several religious orders with the people responding to each verse with the ancient Greek prayer, "Lord, have mercy" or "Kyrie eleison." The Litany of the Saints was sung. After each name of a martyr or saint was chanted, invoking his or her intercession between God and the people, participants in the procession sang the Latin words, "Ora pro eo," meaning "Pray for him." This is a departure from the traditional, "Pray for us" or "Ora pro nobis."

When the body of the pope was hoisted upon the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, the Papal Gentlemen turned the bier and lifted the pope's head to face the tens of thousands of people that filled St. Peter's Square. Cardinal Martínez Somalo noted it as the pope's symbolic last look at the devoted followers that had filled St. Peter's Square throughout the papacy of John Paul II.

The procession ended with the seating of the College of Cardinals and the placement of the bier carrying the body of John Paul on a catafalque in front of the steps leading to the altar of St. Peter's Basilica. The paschal candle was lit and the body of the Pope was incensed again by Cardinal Martínez Somalo. Prayers were said and a reading from the Gospels was performed by a deacon. After the College of Cardinals paid their respects and left the sanctuary, the basilica was closed and then reopened for the official lying in state to last until the day of the Mass of Requiem and subsequent interment.

Requiem Mass

The Papal Gentlemen carry the coffin into St. Peter's Square. Standing in the front row are, from left to right, President Chen Shui-bian of Republic of China, First Lady Marisa Letícia da Silva and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria, President Borislav Paravac of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and First Lady Elvira Salinas de Mesa and President Carlos Mesa of Bolivia.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Mass of Requiem on April 8 at 10:00 a.m. CEST (08:00 UTC), by virtue of his office as Dean of the College of Cardinals.[11] He was also one of Pope John Paul II's closest friends and carried out most of the Pope's duties during his final illness. Concelebrating in the Mass of Requiem were the College of Cardinals (the number of members that were present has been variously given as 157 and 164) and the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

As the pope must be buried between the fourth and sixth day after his death, Friday was chosen as the last possible date. The Mass at St. Peter's Basilica was the first Mass of Requiem for a pope to be televised live in almost every nation in the world.

The event had an estimated viewership of over 2 billion people; the Catholic Church claims only 1.3 billion among its members. The funeral of John Paul II was by far the largest funeral in the history of the world. In lieu of a public viewing at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, as was tradition, immense digital screens instead broadcast the Mass of Requiem and subsequent Rite of Interment to those in the pope's cathedral church outside the confines of Vatican City. The same digital screens were hoisted at several sites in Rome, including the Circus Maximus, and at specially designated campsites outside the city for the millions of pilgrims who descended on the city.[1]

The funeral was perhaps the most-watched live event in the history of television. Because people in North America understood that the service took place during the early morning hours on their side of the Atlantic, many awoke to view the funeral, and others taped it for a historical record. In addition, several television networks in the Americas rebroadcast the funeral later in the day.


Archbishop Piero Marini, the master of ceremonies for papal liturgical celebrations, venerates the casket of John Paul

As the Mass of Requiem began, the doors of St. Peter's Basilica were locked with dignitaries asked to stand outside the church. Only the College of Cardinals and the patriarchs and presiding metropolitans of the Eastern Catholic Churches were allowed inside for a private ceremony in which John Paul was placed in a cypress coffin, the first of three.[12] Before being laid in the coffin, Archbishop Stanisław Dziwisz had the honor of placing a white silk veil over the face of the pope (a tradition started by Leo XIII). It was his last official act of service to the pope as his papal secretary.[8] The body was lowered into a cypress coffin, which served as the innermost coffin. Along with the body was a sealed document, the Rogito, a eulogy detailing the life and works of Pope John Paul II, read aloud in Latin by Archbishop Marini and signed by those present during the funeral. Three bags containing gold, silver, and copper euro coins were placed beside the body. Each bag contained one coin for each year in Pope John Paul II's reign, the only monetary compensation he received for his service as pope, which totaled to about €100 (worth US$141). After the private ceremony, the doors of St. Peter's Basilica were opened while dignitaries were seated. Cardinal Ratzinger and his concelebrants prepared for their procession from inside the basilica to a marble apron in the middle of St. Peter's Square where the Mass of Requiem was held.

The procession began with the introductory chant, "Requiem Aeternam" ("Eternal Rest Grant Him, O Lord"), which includes verses from Psalm 64 (65), "To You We Owe Our Hymn of Praise, O God of Zion." Carried on the shoulders of the Papal Gentlemen, the coffin bearing the image of Pope John Paul II's coat-of-arms burned onto the lid, the pope was carried into St. Peter's Square onto the marble apron. An acolyte holding a red leather-bound Book of the Gospel led the coffin. The Papal Gentlemen laid the coffin onto a red carpet directly front in the altar

Liturgy of the Word

The front of St. Peter's Square was filled with cardinals, bishops, priests, and foreign dignitaries

The Liturgy of the Word began with a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, 10:34–43, read by Chilean Alejandra Correa in Spanish. The responsorial was Psalm 22(23). The second reading was read by John McDonald in English, taken from the Letters of Saint Paul to the Philippians, 3:20–4:1. It was entitled, "But our citizenship is in heaven." The reader ended by singing, "Verbum Domini" ("The Word of the Lord.") Congregants replied in chant, "Deo gratias" ("Thanks be to God.")

Congregants stood for the proclamation of the Gospel, heralded by the singing of Alleluia. After being blessed by Cardinal Ratzinger, an English deacon of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Paul Moss (who has now been ordained priest and is currently serving as Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Birmingham), processed with the Book of the Gospels to the ambo or lectern. He began by singing, "The Gospel according to John." Congregants replied, "Glory to you, O Lord." Moss then incensed the Book of the Gospel and then sang the reading in Latin. The reading came from John chapter 6, verse 40, stating, "For this is the will of my father that everyone who sees the son and believes in him may have eternal life." Moss then read from John chapter 21, verses 15 through 19, which is an account of a dialogue between Jesus and Saint Peter. Jesus asked three times, "Do you love me?" He then told his disciple, "Follow me." The deacon raised the Book of the Gospel and sang, "Verbum Domini" or "The Word of the Lord." Congregants replied in chant, "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ."


After kissing the text of the Book of the Gospels, Cardinal Ratzinger stood before the congregants to offer the homily which included references to the life and service of Pope John Paul. He spoke in Italian, first greeting the many political figures and religious leaders that had gathered, and then told the story of how the young Karol had answered the Lord's call, and became a priest after the persecution of the Nazis, the answer of the command: "Follow me!" Cardinal Ratzinger also told of John Paul's life as a bishop, cardinal, and pope, frequently applying scripture to the pope's life. Finally, he told of the pope's devotion to Mary and the Divine Mercy of Christ. The cardinal's last words were about the final hours of Pope John Paul II:

None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing Urbi et Orbi. We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some construed the ending of the homily to mean that the pope had already entered into heaven, and had become a saint.[13]

Cardinal Ratzinger became emotional at certain parts of his homily, especially in reflection of the inability of Pope John Paul to speak in the last days of his life. Altogether, the homily was interrupted approximately ten times with outbursts of applause by the congregants.

The Nicene Creed sung in the Latin language followed the homily. The prayers of the faithful were offered in Italian, French, Swahili, Tagalog, Polish, German, and Portuguese.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Borne on the shoulders of the Papal Gentlemen, the coffin of Pope John Paul II is taken from the altar for the Rite of Interment

The part of the Mass of Requiem called the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. Cardinal Ratzinger and the concelebrating cardinals gathered around the altar to consecrate the bread and wine. Catholics believe the Biblical truth that at the Consecration of the Mass (when the priest re-presents Jesus' Last Supper's and Death on the Cross, saying "This is my body" and "This is my blood"), the substance of the bread and wine is changed into that of Jesus Christ. This change is called transubstantiation. Because the Church believes the Eucharist is really and truly Christ Himself under the appearances of bread and wine, Catholics worship Jesus in the Eucharist.

After the Eucharistic Prayer (the point in the Mass during which the Consecration occurs), the Lord's Prayer was sung followed later by the brief Latin litany, "Agnus Dei". The Eucharist was then taken to the congregation in St. Peter's Square to be distributed among the faithful. As the congregation received the Blessed Sacrament, Psalm 129 (in some Biblical versions Psalm 130) was sung. Its lyrics proclaimed, "Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice."

After the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the crowds in the streets of Vatican City burst into applause, waving flags and banners chanting, "Santo Subito!" which means "Saint now!" and "Giovanni Paolo Santo" or "Saint John Paul!". A few also repeatedly chanted "Magnus" or "Great", spontaneously declaring that he should be John Paul the Great.


A view from within the congregation

After the congregants received Communion, Cardinal Ratzinger led the Rite of Final Commendation and Farewell. He asked the College of Cardinals and patriarchs of the Eastern Rite to converge on the casket of Pope John Paul II. The congregants were called to prayer, "Dear brothers and sisters let us entrust to the most gentle mercy of God, the soul of our Pope John Paul II." He continued, "May the Blessed Virgin Mary... intercede with God so that he might show the face of his blessed Son to our Pope, and console the church with the light of the resurrection."

The choir sang the Litany of the Saints; the same song was sung during the procession that transferred the body of Pope John Paul II from the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace to St. Peter's Basilica. Breaking with tradition for the sacred prayer, the names of the saints canonised by Pope John Paul II, such as Faustina Kowalska and Josemaría Escrivá, were allowed to be included in the litany. Names of saints included in the more traditional litany were also included along with the newer saints.

After the singing of the Litany of the Saints, the patriarchs, archbishops and metropolitans of the Eastern Catholic Churches approached the coffin of Pope John Paul II for their own rituals of commendation and farewell (panikhida). They incensed the casket and chanted the Easter proclamation, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by His death", three times, and the rest of the Eastern memorial service. The Eastern patriarchs together with the entire College of Cardinals witnessed the sprinkling of the casket with the waters used in the sacrament of baptism. Incense was used once again, when Ratzinger, assisted by an Italian deacon of the Pontifical Major Seminary in Rome, father Nello Luongo, incensed and prayed for the dead Pope at the very end of the Mass. The Prayer of the Eastern Churches from the Parastas (Office of the Dead) of the Byzantine Rite was chanted in Greek and in Arabic by Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, ending with "Your memory is eternal, our brother, dignified with blessings and unforgettable."

The Mass of Requiem was officially ended with congregation standing, singing the words, "May the angels accompany you into heaven, may the martyrs welcome you when you arrive, and lead you to Holy Jerusalem."

The Papal Gentlemen carried the coffin of Pope John Paul II for interment. As they carried the Pope toward the entrance of St. Peter's, the congregation in attendance broke out into applause and cheered as their final farewell. The coffin was then turned 180 degrees to face the congregation and the cameras, and the crowd applauded and cheered with more fervour before it was taken out of the public view for the last time. Cardinal Ratzinger handed over authority of the Rite of Interment to Cardinal Martínez Somalo, the Camerlengo.

Rite of Interment

The people of Poland had wished for the heart of Pope John Paul II to be removed from his body and transferred to Wawel Cathedral to be buried alongside the greatest of Poland's monarchs and National heroes. Cardinal Martínez Somalo said that the request would not be obliged.

An underground grotto beside the former shrine of the now glass-entombed and preserved body of Blessed Pope John XXIII was chosen for the interment of Pope John Paul II. He was lowered into a tomb that had been prepared following the transfer of Blessed Pope John XXIII's remains from the grotto to the main floor of the basilica after his beatification. The vault that originally held John XXIII's body had been removed so a new tomb could be built. The College of Cardinals decided to keep John Paul II beneath the altar of St. Peter's Basilica, citing the possibility of future beatification and canonization into sainthood.

Pallbearers took the coffin through the central door of St. Peter's Basilica. At that point a single bell tolled. The pallbearers took the coffin through the Santa Marta Door, under the Monument to Alexander VII, to the outside (South) of the Basilica. They entered the grottoes, a cemetery underneath the Basilica where Saint Peter is believed to be buried, through the door now used as the grottoes' exit. After passing beneath low ceilings and through long corridors, the pallbearers stopped at the crypt of Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II was buried at 2:30PM Vatican time in this simple underground crypt according to his wishes, His remains were removed from this crypt in 2011 in preparation for his beatification.

Cardinal Martínez Somalo, Camerlengo of the Roman Church, then presided over the Rite of Interment. It was a private service witnessed only by the highest-ranking members of the College of Cardinals. As is custom, Pope John Paul II was entombed in three nested coffins. The cypress coffin was sealed and tied with three red silk ribbons.[14] The cypress casket was lowered into a larger solid zinc (traditionally lead) casket, which was soldered shut. This coffin was adorned with three bronze plaques: a simple cross at the head of the coffin, a middle plaque with the Pope's name and the length of his life and pontificate, and a third with Pope John Paul II's personal coat of arms at the foot. The zinc casket was finally lowered into a larger walnut (traditionally elm) casket, bearing three identical plaques, which was shut with nails of pure gold. The middle plaques bear the following statement in Latin:




English Translation:

Body of
John Paul II, Supreme Pontiff
He lived 84 years, 10 months, 15 days
He presided over the Universal Church

26 years, 5 months, 17 days

The unified coffin was lowered into the ground, as the Pope requested, and covered with a plain stone slab featuring his name and dates of his pontificate. Pope John Paul II asked that his burial be like that of Pope Paul VI, not in an elaborate sarcophagus and ornate above-ground tomb, but in "bare earth".[15]

Cardinal Martínez Somalo ended the Rite of Interment with the words, "Lord, grant him eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him." Those present sang "Salve Regina" or "Hail Holy Queen."


Before the College of Cardinals could offer official customary invitations to the various heads of state and government, over 200 foreign officials had expressed their desire to attend the Mass of Requiem. Among the most familiar faces worldwide were the President of the United States and former Presidents of the United States, the current and former Presidents of Brazil, the President of Poland, the President of France, the President of Ireland, the Taoiseach of Ireland, the King and Queen of Spain, King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of Germany and the President of Germany, the Prince of Wales (who postponed his wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles by 24 hours, to attend), the Prime Minister of Canada, the King and Queen of Jordan, the President of Afghanistan, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Also attending were Mohammad Khatami of Iran and Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Kings and Queens from Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Norway were also present.

The dignitaries were seated alphabetically according to the French spelling of their country's name and arranged according to diplomatic protocol, with heads of state and their spouses taking precedence over heads of government. The largest delegations were the Italian (sitting in the first honorary seats were the President of Italy and other high Italian dignitaries) and Polish ones. As such, Israeli President Moshe Katsav sat only two seats away from the president of a traditional enemy of Israel, Khatami of Iran. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe defied a European Union travel ban to attend the funeral. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian made an unprecedented appearance and was seated in the front row as the head of state of China, due to the existence of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of China. The People's Republic of China was not invited to the funeral and protested to Italy for allowing Chen passage to the Vatican. Altogether, the Mass of Requiem was deemed to be the largest gathering of statesmen in world history, exceeding the gathering at the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in London in 1965.

Some of the dignitaries who attended the funeral also attended the installation Mass for Pope Benedict XVI on April 24, 2005.


After the Rite of Interment, nine official days of mourning began. The devotional called novemdiales features a Mass of Requiem on each of the nine days at St. Peter's Basilica. Several cardinals were chosen by Cardinal Ratzinger to have the honour of presiding over each Mass. One of the most controversial honourees was Bernard Francis Law, Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, scheduled to preside a novemdiales on April 11. During his tenure as Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law was accused of having mishandled cases of sexual abuse at the hands of diocesan priests. The event sparked the nationwide Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in the dioceses of the United States.[16]

Several members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) flew to Rome to protest saying Cardinal Law's place of honor was painful to sexual abuse victims and embarrassing to Catholics. Just as the group's members arrived at St. Peter's Basilica, led by founder Barbara Blaine, police officers escorted them outside the confines of St. Peter's Square. Blaine was unable to pass out fliers to people walking into the Mass offered by Cardinal Law.[16]

Blaine had earlier told reporters in a press conference, "We are the sons and daughters of the Catholic family who were raped, sodomized and sexually molested by priests. At this time, we should be able to focus on the Holy Father's death, instead of Cardinal Law's prominence."[16] The College of Cardinals responded by stating that Cardinal Law was honoured as a matter of his being the ordinary of one of the most important basilicas of the Roman Catholic Church.

The 14 April novemdiales Mass at St. Peter's Basilica replaced traditional hymns and prayers with those of the Maronite Rite, one of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, presided over the Mass. It was the first time a cardinal patriarch of an Eastern Catholic Church offered a novemdiales Mass, in his own rite, for a pope.


The immensity of the pilgrim presence in Rome and the vast diplomatic contingent from nations around the world raised concerns by the College of Cardinals that the funeral, conclave and installation of a new pope would make Vatican City a target for terrorism. The anti-terrorism task forces responsible for securing the funeral considered international terrorists the primary potential threat because of the attending dignitaries; domestic terrorism from Italian political extremists was considered less likely.

On April 6—in advent of the arrival of the United States delegation aboard Air Force One, protected by a military escort—the Italian government issued a no-fly zone within a five-mile radius of Rome. The Italian government considered the President of the United States, the first sitting American president to attend a papal funeral, as the most tempting target for terrorists. Official diplomatic delegations from other nations began arriving at the same time.

The Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian air force) prepared their aircraft to be launched at a moment's notice in case of a terrorist strike. The Italian Army deployed anti-aircraft missiles around Vatican City, to the grudging dismay of the College of Cardinals. Marina Militare (Italian navy) warships were positioned along the shorelines of Italy armed with torpedoes. Gunboats ran up and down the rivers and waterways of Rome, including the Tiber River which flows around Vatican City. One thousand snipers were positioned on strategic rooftops throughout the Italian capital as Carabinieri military police task forces swept aqueducts and drains for explosives. Helicopters were dispatched to scan the city streets from above. Plans to close Ciampino Airport from commercial flights and divert air traffic to and from Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino were finalized for the day of the Mass of Requiem and Interment of Pope John Paul II. Other smaller civilian commuter and recreational airports were also shut down.

Some of the same security measures that were in effect for the funeral were also in effect for the installation Mass of Pope Benedict XVI on 24 April.



  1. ^ a b c d "CNN Transcript from 4 April 2005". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  2. ^ "Universi Dominici Gregis". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  3. ^ "The Ultimate Photo Shoot". Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  4. ^ " "Pope John Paul II buried in Vatican crypt-Millions around the world watch funeral"". Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 2008-10-19. [dead link]
  5. ^ "The Independent: "Millions mourn Pope at history's largest funeral"". London: Independent News and Media Limited. 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  6. ^ Holmes, Stephanie (2005-04-09). "BBC 4428149". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  7. ^ ""Pope John Paul II Funeral"". Outside the Beltway. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  8. ^ a b "American Morning report, April 8, 2005". International Wire. 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  9. ^ "Europe | Pontiff's seal and ring destroyed". BBC News. 2005-04-16. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  10. ^ "Eucharistic Concelebration for the Repose of the Soul of Pope John Paul II: Homily of Card. ‘Angelo Sodano’". © 2005,2009 The Holy See. 3 April 2005. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  11. ^ "Chicago Tribune". Retrieved 2008-03-04. [dead link]
  12. ^ "BBC 8 April 2005". BBC News. 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  13. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (2005-04-12). "Cardinals Lobby for Swift Sainthood for John Paul II". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  14. ^ "World | Europe | Pope buried in St Peter's crypt". BBC News. 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  15. ^ Willey, David (2005-04-13). "World | Europe | Venerable resting place for the Pope". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  16. ^ a b c "BBC: Victims protest against Rome Mass". BBC News. 2005-04-11. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 

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