Monday, April 04, 2005
Why does the Pope have three coffins?
I looked this up since someone asked. The Pope's body is placed in three coffins: cypress, lead and elm. The simple wooden coffin made of cypress signifies he is an ordinary human being like everyone else. 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. (They'll need a lot of space in this one for all the writings of John Paul!) This custom, which goes back many years, has been a means of conserving important Church documents. Finally, 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.