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Pope John XXIII Laid to Rest

June 6, 1963 - After solemn ceremonies in the majestic setting of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope John XXIII was laid to rest this evening in a crypt not far from what, according to tradition, was once the grave of Simon Peter, Prince of the Apostles. As it lay in a niche in a chapel under the main altar of St. Peter’s, the 261st Pope’s body was encased in three enormous coffins weighing a total of more than half a ton. The innermost one was of cypress wood lined with red satin, the second was of lead with a bronze cover soldered on it, and the third was of walnut. The body of Pope John will be moved to St. John Lateran, his cathedral as Bishop of Rome. In his will, he expressed the wish to be buried there. Until an hour before the funeral rites were to begin, the mortal remains of the widely beloved Pontiff had lain in state before the Altar of the Confession, the main altar in St. Peter’s. Hundreds of thousands of people had filed past since yesterday morning to pay their last respects. Pope John, who was 81 when he died Monday night, had reigned since Oct. 28, 1958.


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