Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/412

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him across the earthly threshold as they do every sinful mortal who breathes his last within the shelter o the Church. His face is cov- ered with a white veil, and the death room is filled with the sound of the Penitential Psalms and the Office for the Dead. The Chamber- lain remains kneeling for a while on a violet pillow. He recites a silent prayer, during which the servants bare the Pope's face. Then he arises, approaches the bed and strikes the forehead of the dead Pontiff three times with a silver hammer, accompanying each stroke with the baptismal name of the deceased. Then he says to thpse who are present, 'The Pope is in truth dead." While all fall upon their knees, he recites the De Profundis and the Prayer of Absolu- tion, and sprinkles holy water on the corpse. He is given the ring, which is taken from the Pope's finger; later on this is broken, to- gether with the great seal of the Chancellery, during the first general meeting of the cardinals. The Papal authority remains in suspense until the day when the newly elected Pope is crowned. Only the Great Penitentiary, the Great Almoner and the representative of the diocese of Rome continue to administer their offices, since neither corv- science nor the poor must suffer by reason of the Pope's death.

The nine days which intervene between death and burial are de- voted to preparations for the funeral Mass and for the election of the new Pope, which begins on the tenth day. The Cardinal-Chamber- lain remains in the Vatican, of which he takes possession; and during the days of the vacancy he rules with the help of the three senior cardinals. He is accompanied everywhere by the Swiss Guard, and is the centre of Vatican life though of course he keeps in touch with the General Congregation of Cardinals, to which important questions are submitted. This determines the day, the hour, and the ceremo- nial of the removal of the body to St. Peter's. It decides upon a funeral orator, takes charge of acknowledging letters of condolence received from princes and states, and if necessary also sets the day on which the diplomatic corps is to be received in a body. In addition the Secretary of the College of Cardinals is entrusted with diplomatic matters. There is an old custom that as a reward for thus represent- ing the retired Secretary of State he may lay claim to the cardinal's hat in the first Consistory to be called by the new Pope.

The body of the Pope is embalmed, clad in clean vestments and