The Late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who retired in 2013, got everyone talking about his retirement giving reasons of health challenge. At the last day last year 2022, the Late Pontiff passed on. According to the personal secretary of late Pope Benedict XVI, his last words were, “I Love You Jesus”. These words showed how much he valued his relationship with God and how he waited for his last breath.

Since his death, Catholic Faithful and millions of people have been visiting the Vatican to see the precious remains of the Late Pontiff and also pray to God for the repose of his soul.

On 5th January, 2023 Pope Francis buries the late Pope Emeritus which was a rare occasion in the history of the Catholic Church. Thousands of Priests and hundreds of Bishop were in attendance and the Nigerian Francis Cardinal Arinze was among the concelebrating Cardinals with the Pope. Millions of people all over the world also witnessed the Holy Mass and those who could not join followed on the various social media platforms where it was streamed.

As the Emeritus Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, the three coffin ritual outlined for the burial of Popes was followed, as specified in the Funeral Rites of the Roman Pontiff. The last time a Pope buried his predecessor was in 1802 when Pope Pius VII buried his predecessor Pope Pius VI. Basically, the Dean of Cardinals has been the one presiding over the burial of Popes. But in historical fashion, Pope Francis presides over the burial of Pope Benedict XVI.

The three coffins used for the internment of a Pope are as follows:

A cypress coffin: The mortal remains of the Holy Father are placed inside this coffin. A copy of the program from the funeral Mass is placed in the innermost coffin made of cypress, as are bags of silver, gold, and copper coins. The number of coins in each bag equals the number of years of the papacy. The simple wooden coffin made of cypress signifies he is an ordinary human being like everyone else.  The coffin is sealed and wrapped with three silk ribbons before being placed in a lead casket. The picture below is the cypress coffin.

A lead casket: The lead casket, which is soldered shut, is engraved with the pope’s name and dates of his papacy, as well as skull and crossbones. The lead coffin is more durable and the Pope’s name and the years of his pontificate are engraved on it. Important documents he issued are also placed in this coffin. The lead coffin will in turn be placed in an elm coffin and interred under a marble slab.

An elm casket: Finally, the lead casket is placed in an elm coffin which is nailed shut with golden nails, the elm coffin is meant to indicate the Pope’s dignity, since elm is a rare and precious wood in the area of Italy around Rome. May God rest our Pope in the bosom of our Saviour