Apr 242011

Click to see John Paul II's Last Will and Testament per the Vatican

by Anura Guruge

On May 2, following his May 1, 2011 beatification, the remains of Bl. John Paul II (#265) will be re-interred within St. Peter’s Basilica in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, beneath the altar — above ground. See this post for more details and even a picture.

A transcript of John Paul II’s last will and testament, published on April 7, 2005, is available from the Vatican.

This would violate an explicit, handwritten margin note by John Paul II, on March 13, 1992, on his will that categorically says: burial in the ground and not in a sarcophagus, 13 March 1992.

John Paul II's explicit instructions for burial in the ground

As many know John Paul II was indeed buried in the ground, in bare earth, in the grotto under St. Peter’s Basilica — in an alcove previously occupied by Bl. John XXIII’s (#262) coffin before they were moved after he was beatified. [See picture of original tomb below.]

While it is indeed customary to move the remains of popes to the main body of the Basilica once they are beatified, removing John Paul II’s coffin from below ground and having elevated above ground seems somehow wrong — though this was, of course, approved by his friend, the current pope.

What makes this doubly wrong is that it is the second thing in his will that has been overridden. As with burial in the ground, he explicitly asked for his personal notes to be burned — by Dziwisz. Dziwisz has publicly admitted that he did not burn them — despite the precise, unequivocal instructions in the will.

John Paul II's specific instructions that his personal notes be burned.


Then there is the whole issue that he wanted to be buried in Poland. But, that (mysteriously) is not stated in the will. See ‘The Next Pope‘ book page 79.

Ven. John Paul II's original tomb, in bare earth per his wishes.


  19 Responses to “John Paul II Re-Interment, Post Beatification, Goes Against His Will — Again!”

  1. […] link to a blog run by a friend of mine Anura Guruge. He is a Papal Historian and had this entry today […]

  2. Anura as always enjoy your blog and views. Regards to Pope John Paul II burial request, I believe the Vatican has got it right in respect to his last Will. His new tomb in St. Peters will be at ground level,under a slab . I feel John Paul II mention I thought of not in a sarcophagus was his dislike of Pope John Paul I (1978) burial in a sarcophagus,as I understand because Papa Luciani left no will for his burial, so the Vatican gave Papa Luciani a traditional Roman burial of its popes in a sarcophagus.
    Cheers David.

  3. David,
    Thank you.
    David, did you take a look at the large picture I posted of where Innocent XI’s body was placed, under the altar, in the Chapel of St. Sebastian. That is where they are going to place John Paul II’s coffin. Yes, most definitely, it is at ground level — on the main floor of St. Peter’s. But, there is, at a minimum, a grotto below that. Earth per se is probably 30 feet below.
    JUST occurred to me … are YOU talking about where he WAS buried. Yes, that certainly met his requirement to be buried in bare earth, in the ground. But, his coffin will be unearthed from there sometime THIS WEEK — for exposition on Sunday.
    Yes, he definitely didn’t want to be placed in a stone sarcophagus.
    As for Good Pope John Paul I we shouldn’t EVEN talk about his WILL right now! He certainly had a written last will and testament — there was one with his lawyers in Venice. You should check out the stories of John Paul I’s missing will (as well as his reading glasses, socks and medicine).
    Cheers, Anura

  4. I wonder whether he was referring to his body being viewed such as John XXIII’s body is presently being displayed in St. Peter’s and that is what he really is more concerned about. Perhaps they feel that keeping his body in some type of casket behind a stone is more in keeping with the tradition of his request.

    I also agree the John Paul I’s will is still to controversial of a topic, since the cause and manner of his death has never been fully explored!

  5. Dear Father,
    Ven./Bl. John Paul II’s body is being kept, undisturbed & unobserved, in the original 3-layer casket — with the outer walnut layer. That they are saying that they are not going to open the coffin is curios SINCE, as YOU must know, the body has to be viewed as a part of the beatification/canonization process for cultus.
    When the coffin is placed beneath the altar at the Chapel of St. Sebastian it will NOT be under a slab. It will be in a ‘niche,’ under the altar, with a grill in front. The WHOLE point is to have the coffin visible for veneration.
    His original burial was 100% kosher and met his requirements.
    It is what they are doing now that violates his will — in every sense of the word.
    The use of 3-layer caskets, with the middle one, in metal (in this instance zinc) and soldered/welded tight precludes seepage — a perennial problem with the old stone sarcophagus practice that necessitated the unsightly and unbecoming drainage holes!
    Had forgotten your views on Good Pope John Paul I’s death. <> Thanks for reminding me. Made my day.
    All the best. Cheers.

  6. I am disgusted that Cardinal Dziwisz did not do as the Pope asked with his personal notes. This was a man he thought was his friend, although it appears Dziwisz was not as devoted to John Paul as the Pope might have thought. Regardless of what is contained in those writings, they should have been burned immediately. The last thing our Church needs (or wants) is for WikiLeaks or an approximate facsimile to get their hands on his papers. Again it doesn’t matter to me whether the information on those papers is incriminating or not, it was his wishes the papers were burned and instead Dziwisz betrayed him.

    As for his body being re-buried above ground I am far less disturbed, although I would still err on the side of following John Paul’s wishes. I am intrigued by what you mentioned, Anura, about his tomb not being opened. I am not terrible familiar with the rules concerning the beatification process, but would keeping the casket sealed and not viewing the body nullify the beatification? If viewing the remains is required for cultus then, to me that would seen absolutely necessary. Ironic especially considering how rule-conscious the current Pope is.

  7. Darien,
    Have you seen Cardinal Ruini’s claim that cardinals, at the 2005 conclave, petitioned the next pope to fast track John Paul II’s beatification. That, if it happened, was ILLEGAL. Form of capitulation.

  8. Darien,
    Greetings and thank you. As you might have noticed I was gone for a few days. Took the kids to NYC for their school vacation. We had a great time. My wife and I, independently, had seen articles about the new High Line. We did that the first day. Wow. Very cool. You should do it next time you are there. We also took in Mary Poppins. That was good too.
    Darien, I think I have clearly expressed my feelings about Break-the-law Dziwisz. You may have also read, here, that it was documented that he took large private contributions when the pope secretary for arranging audiences with the pope. Then, you may have also read, a heated debate I had with an ‘Andrew from NYC,’ where he claimed that Dziwisz couldn’t do anything until he got approval from the next pope. That is pure bumpkin and John Paul II in UDG clause 32 clearly articulated the responsibility of the executor.
    So here is something to think about. A conspiracy theory no less.

    Benedict XVI could have instructed Break-the-law to burn the papers, per the will, as soon as he heard that Break-the-law had disobeyed John Paul II.
    But, Benedict XVI did not.
    Having John Paul II’s private papers intact could help Benedict XVI in the sex abuse scandal!
    Think about it. If the papers were burned there would be no record.
    Now, Benedict XVI, if he ever got into a real bind, could say … ‘see, John Paul II knew that I was stalling.’
    That would explain it all. YOU could even go further.
    Break-the-law parlayed NOT burning the papers, and the potential benefit to the current pope, into a cardinalate.
    Beatification/canonization process. Darien, like you, I am not a total expert either, though I researched and documented the Pius X canonization in detail.
    Pius X was ‘venerated,’ given the title ‘venerable,’ February 12, 1943.
    On May 19, 1944 his coffin was exhumed and canonically examined.
    This was for what is called ‘cultus’ — a step from the very early days of canonization (when they didn’t have beatification).
    It is a curious step. It is to make sure that a CULT has not already been formed around the subject. Not sure how or why they want to look at the body. Maybe to ascertain that no relics have already been taken.
    As far as I can tell the cultus step is still required. So that is MY confusion.
    Hopefully there are readers here who know this process much better than I do.
    Right now I am FUMING about Cardinal Ruini’s statement that a petition was signed in the 2005 conclave. That would have been EXPLICITLY against clause 82 to UDG. Ruini should know better (and if he didn’t should at least take the precaution of checking with me given that I appear to know UDG better than most cardinals).
    Thanks Darien. Hope all is well.

  9. Darien,
    Did YOU know that Break-the-law Dziwisz KEPT two vials of John Paul II’s blood?
    It is one of these vials that is now being used as a relic.
    Wonder what other DNA that Break-the-law decided to collect and keep for future gain.
    Two people involved, told me, long time ago, that each and every time Barbra Streisand went to the bathroom during a Vegas performance and when the Queen used to visit the bathroom in the Britannica, attendants would rush in to see if there were any ‘relics’ that they could gather — for sale.
    I now have the vision of Dziwisz doing that with the pope!

  10. Do you mean the Royal Yacht Britannia,or was there an encyclopaedia writ large?

    I hope Benedict XVI outlives Dziwisz.

  11. I thought it was pretty common knowledge and extremely well known amongst the Church’s faithful that in a very wonderful sense the Church owns your documents, diary, body, etc., to treat appropriately for the Glory of God. You can make requests about having documents burned or requests in your will, but they are only requests and people like Blessed John Paul II know that the Church will then do as she sees most fitting. Blessed Mother Teresa is a good example – she requested her letters be burned but then was reminded that they were the Church’s property, which she showed great respect for despite her desire. Our modern American eyes probably can have trouble understanding this when we hear of a “Will,” and think of a strictly legal document to be carried out in every detail – culturally things have been and are different in the Church. Blessed John Paul II, pray for us… Cheers!

  12. Pretty common knowledge means diddly.
    Provide a bona fide reference to this claim.
    Have you ever studied UDG?
    Yes, and NOW we know that Mother Teresa, canny as she was, doubted God! Way to go. Must be embarrassing up there in heaven.
    Start here IF this is new to you.
    Here are more links about Mother Teresa and her doubts about God. http://bit.ly/k283Gq
    Why does John Paul II need to pray for US … maybe for YOU … but leave ME out of this.

  13. Of course I meant the beloved Yacht. When I was at IBM (Hursley) the mother of one of my co-workers (a delightfully, bonny British lass with all the quintessential attributes) worked on the Yacht. That is how I came to hear this juicy bit of information.
    Since there was a deluge of traffic on the blog yesterday, I had a quick look at the stats.
    Louis Epstein Esq., PLEASE go to the TOP of the class. YOU spent more time on this Web site than I did. 55 whole minutes. Wow.
    55 minutes.
    Thank YOU Louis.
    All the best.

  14. Louis,
    Benedict XVI and Dziwisz. Did YOU see my comment to Darien, April 29, http://popes-and-papacy.com/wordpress/?p=2801#comments, about Benedict XVI’s complicity in the crime? Please COMMENT. Please try and use the new COMMENT feature if you can: http://bit.ly/km9PhX.
    Dziwisz doesn’t have the same access/control he had with his compatriot. So there is no chance that he can go lurking around collecting blood samples and the popes underwear. Plus, remember, OUR take is that Benedict will live to be at least 94.
    Q1: When will Benedict have outlived ALL cardinals created ahead of him?
    Q2: Can YOU please, for a POST under YOUR name, send me a list of ALL the JP II relics you are aware of … there is blood, cassocks, the sash he was wearing when shot, some seals ….
    Q3: Can YOU please, for a POST under YOUR name, send me a TIME LINE (in chronological order and I promise I will NOT flip it around) of JP II’s beatification/canonization. Start with Wiki.
    [I want posts on both 2 & 3 above BUT really pressed for time.]
    Thanks. Plus try and use the new Comments feature for ALL your comments. That way you might get more visibility.
    Thanks. Cheers.

  15. Dave,
    YOUR statement about the Church owning bodies etc. bothers me at a very profound level.
    So, I guess, in YOUR mind, that was and still is the justification for the heinous clergy sex abuse crime. The Church own all the bodies … so it is OK if the clergy violates some of them. Great line of thinking.
    Wow, I had to go check my calendar to make sure I was living in the 21st century and not in the dark ages.
    Just for YOUR information, the Church does not own my documents. If they even THINK about it I will sue their pants off.
    Amazing. Amazing.
    I was tempted to delete your comment because I found it disturbing, but in the end decided that I will let others see your line of thinking … if that is the right word.

  16. Mr. Guruge, I just discovered you and your blog. I’ve been an oganist in the church since 1960 (Saint Louis, Mo) and always a student of the papacy. I just ordered your book “The Next Pope”. The history of the Papacy is extrememly interesting. I need to read more of your writing; however so far I think that we are thinking in a like manner on many issues. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.
    I do want to ask your view on the possibility (God forbid) of Raymond Burke being papal material. Personally, I think that would be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back ‘ and cause a schism.
    Take care,

  17. Welcome. I love organ music. Bravo.
    Tony, can I please refer you to: http://popes-and-papacy.com/wordpress/?p=1516
    I can assure you, with rare confidence, that you can sleep easy.
    Tony, late last year there were some very amusing discussions re. Our Lord Burke. [We adopted the whole style for referring to the US cardinals, in particular Burke].
    Tony, on the NEAR top right of the blog … you will see a BOX that says: ‘Search this blog’. Just under the colorful banner with my name.
    Please type in Burke. Then ENJOY.
    Thank YOU for ordering the book. I think you will like it. Most have …
    All the best. PLEASE join in the discussions.
    And post against …. this …. which might hopefully get you more visibility.
    I assume that the bad weather, down South, did not impact you too much.
    Thanks. All the best. Cheers.

  18. Anthony Dolce,I take it you have a perspective different from http://stlouiscatholic.blogspot.com/ ?
    There are those who would greet the election of Eminentissium ac Reverendissimum Dominum Raymondus Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Burke as Pope with transports of delight.(I am not religious personally).

    As to JP II relics,his various pallia would qualify,he must have gone through more than one in his papal wardrobe and must have had another in Krakow.

  19. Louis isn’t the word dominum used twice consecutively in the formula (smilees not working apparently)

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