Monday, Aug. 7, 1978
VATICAN CITY — Under the precise protocol of the Vatican, detailed plans for public mourning and an elaborate funeral were being implemented yesterday only minutes after Pope Paul VI died at his summer palace in Castel Gandolfo.
They began with the tolling of Rome’s church bells when word flashed that the pope was dead. The Vatican’s yellow and white pontifical flags were drawn to half-mast.
Inside the papal bedchamber, the corpse was being dressed in splendid vestments that hundreds of thousands will see. Then the pope’s confessors were expected to take up posts by the bed, allowed to stand the first watch over the body.
[After the funeral,] the body, enclosed in triple caskets of lead, cypress and oak, will be taken down to the grottos beneath the basilica and put into a crypt.
The cardinals can only wear violet robes of mourning until a new pope is elected, when they will again put on their usual crimson.
In 1963, the Church lifted the ban on cremation for Catholics.
How would you feel about the body of a deceased pope being cremated?