VATICAN CITY, APR. 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Blessed John XXIII's incorrupt body will be displayed during Mass in St. Peter's Square on June 3, Pentecost Sunday, the Vatican announced.
On that day, the anniversary of the "good Pope's" death, "the mortal remains of the blessed, placed in a bronze and glass coffin, will be exposed in St. Peter's Square during a Mass, presided over by the Holy Father," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement today.
"At the end of the celebration, the coffin will be taken to St. Peter's Basilica and exposed all afternoon, for the veneration of the faithful, before the altar of the Confession," the statement said.
On March 27, Cardinal Virgilio Noe, archpriest of the Vatican basilica, confirmed that the body of John XXIII was incorrupt. The body was examined in January in preparation for moving it from the Vatican Grottoes to St. Peter's Basilica.
He had the same expression he bore when he died June 3, 1963, Navarro-Valls said. However, the discovery of incorruptibility does not necessarily signify a miracle. Vincenzo Pascali, professor of legal medicine at the Catholic University of Rome, explained that the process of formalin, to which the Pope's body was subjected, preserved his tissues from deterioration. In addition, the body was protected by three containers, which kept out oxygen.
Navarro-Valls announced that, at the end of the ceremony, John XXIII's remains will be placed in St. Jerome's altar in St. Peter's Basilica. The altar, John XXIII's favorite, is undergoing renovation to receive the remains.