Pope John Paul II
Pastor to the world, he led a revolution of conscience
There are 147 popes buried in St. Peter's.
The pope traditionally lies in state dressed in white with red and gold liturgical vestments. Sometimes a white miter (head covering) is worn.
TRADITIONAL TRIPLE COFFIN
1 Cypress, the innermost coffin, signifies the pope's humanity.
2 800-pound lead coffin bears a skull and crossbones insignia.
3 The outer elm coffin symbolizes the dignity of the pope and allows him to be buried in a wooden coffin like any other person.
If the pope is to be buried in the Vatican, traditionally all three coffins are placed inside a marble vault located under St. Peter's Basilica.
A gold signet ring engraved with the name of the pope and an image of St. Peter fishing from a boat will be destroyed with a silver hammer, symbolizing the extinguishment of John Paul II's power.
Several items are sealed in the coffins with the pope:
- Destroyed fisherman's ring
- Death certificate, important papers
- Coins, medals struck during his reign
Sources: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; stpetersbasilica.org; Conclave
Text by Stephen Rountree and Nicole Schofer
Graphic by Rob Cady and Stephen Rountree
With Michael Schaffer, Joshua Kurlantzick, Linda Kulman and Alexander Stille