Did you mention “catafalques”?

The other day I answered a reader’s question about Requiem Masses with absolution of the catafalque.

Here are a three examples of of catafalques, which substitute for the the presence of the body of the deceased.

This is the TMSM’s catafalque, which looks very much like a regular coffin covered by a pall.  It was constructed by members of the Society and is easily transported, arranged, and removed.

On the other hand, when you have had your thing going for a few centuries, you might be able to do this.

Here is the catafalque for this year’s Requiem at Ss. Trinità dei Pelegrini in Rome in the hands of the Fraternity of St. Peter.

I love this stuff, especially the obvious Memento Mori elements of the skulls.  We really need to bring these elements back into our vestments and ornamentation for Requiem Masses.  Yes, yes.  “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!”, blah blah blah.  The fact is that decades of white vestments, informal canonizations, horrid eulogies and hot air have distorted the Catholic’s Christian identity.

So, that was Ss. Trinità dei Pelegrini in Rome.   Now we go a little way north to Florence and the Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano, in the hands of the Institute of Christ the King.

Okay, we got at least three layers of Requiem cake here and probably around 20 candles.  Anything worth doing is worth over doing!   This is quite the sight.

So, those were pretty amazing.  However, we of the TMSM had the Extraordinary Ordinary for our Requiem, celebrated at the throne.  That’s something they won’t have.

When you have a big church, you may as well build big.

Here is the catafalque for Ven. Pius XII.

Remember that you can gain plenary indulgences through 8 November by visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. I think when we got rid of all this stuff, we stopped taking death seriously as the solemn moment when we appear, alone and utterly stripped, before our Creator to be judged. It is odd that this should have been our response to a half-century of fratricidal slaughter. Maybe this is the reason we can so casually deal out death to millions of unborn children.

  2. John UK says:

    For a good example of a late mediæval monastic hearse, see:

    This also has a picture of Pius XII’s hearse of 1958.

  3. Nicholas says:

    Where I am, we just covered a cheap plastic table with a pall. It still looked good, at least from the choir loft and the Mass was beautiful.

  4. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Here’s a catafalque for you: https://icksp.org.uk/preston/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2018/11/DSC_0481.jpg#main

    More pictures here, on the New! Improved! website of the ICKSP in England: https://icksp.org.uk/preston/all-souls-day-mmxviii/

  5. jaykay says:

    Anita Moore, OP: very well said. Thank you.

    Next Sunday will be 11th November, Remembrance Sunday, for all those who died in the wars of that disastrous century, the poisonous affects of which slop over into this one with, it seems, increasing affect. Our Lady warned us.

    Myself, if I had the money, I’d feel like commissioning one of those Medieval tombs with a very realistic rotten corpse/skeleton sculpture. Memento mori. Then again, to be really “relevant”, perhaps one with a bin-bag with aborted foetuses would be more appropriate.

    Nah, it’d be “hate-sculpture”.

  6. Sword40 says:

    Sadly, our new priest did not use a catafalque this year. We have all the vestments and pall and candle holders. Did have 10 altar boys and the choir did a pretty good job, considering that our strongest singers recently moved. Somehow, we’ve got to “educate” father.

  7. Benedict Joseph says:

    An option for a catafalque was not provided in my funeral pre-planning. I feel cheated. I am especially covetous of the skull and bones at the base of the catafalque pictured at Ss. Trinità dei Pelegrini. Now there is a point for meditation.

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