08.04.

2005: The Funeral of Pope Saint John Paul II

2005: The Funeral of Pope Saint John Paul II
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 8 April 2005
  • The funeral was attended by more statespersons than the funerals of Winston Churchill and Josip Broz Tito. It was the largest gathering of heads of state in the history of the world (outside the UN).

On this day in 2005, late Pope Saint John Paul II was ceremoniously buried in the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The funeral was marked by the largest gathering of heads of state in the history of the world (outside the UN).

The funeral was attended by more statespersons than the funerals of Winston Churchill and Josip Broz Tito. Among the present were three American presidents, the British prime minister, the German president and chancellor, the French president, and even the presidents of Israel and Iran. Also present were four kings and five queens. Prince Charles postponed his wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles for 24 hours to attend the funeral.

It is particularly interesting that the funeral was a great ecumenical gathering, attended by many religious non-Catholic leaders. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was the first Ecumenical Patriarch who attended a papal funeral since the Great Schism in 1054. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury was the first Anglican Primate attending a papal funeral ever since Henry VIII seceded the Church of England from the Catholic Church. The head of the Ethiopian Church and catholicos (supreme head) of the Armenian Church were present for the first time in history.

The Pope was buried in in a cypress casket under the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

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