VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The remains of Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689) were moved from the Chapel of St. Sebastian in St. Peter’s Basilica to make room for the body of John Paul II.
On Thursday evening a ceremony was held in which Blessed Innocent’s urn was removed from its place under the altar in the Chapel of St. Sebastian.
The urn was carried in a procession, accompanied by the singing of the litany of Papal saints, to the altar of the Transfiguration, under which it will now rest behind the same grate that it protected beneath the altar of St. Sebastian.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over the rite, which concluded with a prayer and benediction, and the reading and signing of the document concerning the act of transfer.
In the Chapel of St. Sebastian, where restoration work has been recently completed, the space beneath the altar is now open to receive the body of John Paul II after his May 1 beatification.
That chapel is located between the Chapel of the Pieta and the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. The altar is flanked by statues of Pius XI and Pius XII.
According to a statement by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, the coffin containing the remains of John Paul II will be removed from its place beneath the Vatican Basilica on April 29 and placed before the main altar on May 1 so that the faithful may venerate it following the beatification.
The crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica will be closed to the public April 29-May 1.
Father Lombardi said that John Paul II’s body will not be removed from the coffin and the coffin will not be opened.
L’Osservatore Romano reported that the Pontiff’s body will be “enclosed” and that the tomb will be marked “by a simple marble stone engraved with: Beatus Ioannes Paulus II.”