Journalists Visit John Paul II's Tomb

Crypt Adorned With Bas-Relief of Virgin Mary and Child

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Journalists accredited by the Holy See were able to visit John Paul II’s tomb in the Vatican Grottoes beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, a day before the area opens to the public.

The Pope rests in the crypt where Blessed Pope John XXIII rested until his beatification.

Karol Wojtyla’s tomb is similar to that of Pope Paul VI; both are simple, as they requested in their last will and testament.

The main difference is the color of the marker stone. The marble that covers Paul VI’s tomb is darker than John Paul II’s, which is white with gray streaks.

The tomb of the first Polish Pope bears his name “Ioannes Paulus PP II,” in gilt letters. Beneath are the dates of his election as Bishop of Rome, 16.X.1978, and of his death, 1.IV.2005.

Further down is Christ’s anagram with a “P” over an “X.” A light and a candle are the only signs that differentiate John Paul II’s tomb these days from those of other Popes buried there.

The small crypt is adorned with a bas-relief that represents the Virgin with the Child Jesus.

Some 6,000 journalists and communicators have been accredited these days by the Holy See. Several thousand were able to visit the Roman Pontiff’s tomb this afternoon, for a moment of recollection.

After the Mass for the repose of John Paul II’s soul, celebrated on the fifth day of the nine days of mourning after the Pontiff’s death, presided over by Cardinal Eugênio de Araújo Sales, retired archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the cardinals also recollected themselves in prayer before the Pope’s tomb.

The faithful will be able to visit John Paul II’s tomb starting Wednesday morning, by passing through St. Peter’s Basilica.

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