Ancient tradition for confirming Pope’s death

.- According to the Apostolic Constitution Apostólica Universi Dominici Gregis issued by Pope John Paul II in 1996, the confirming of the death of a Pontiff includes an ancient tradition: The death of the Pope is verified by the Cardinal Camerlengo, Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, who is to gently strike the Pope's head with a small silver hammer and call out his Christian name three times.

This tradition is observed after doctors officially confirm the Pope’s passing.  The Camerlengo then must declare the Pope's death in the presence of the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, and of the Cleric Prelates, Secretary and Chancellor of the Apostolic Camera. The Cardinal Camerlengo takes possession of the Fisherman's Ring worn by the Pope; the Ring, along with the papal seal, is later destroyed before the College of Cardinals.  The papal apartments at the Vatican and at Castelgandolfo are also sealed off.

The Cardinal Camerlengo also informs the Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who then communicates the news to the people of Rome.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has the task of communicating the Pope’s death to the rest of the Cardinals throughout the world, to the diplomatic corps and to heads of states.

Although the mourning of the Pope will last nine days, his remains will be buried between the fourth and the sixth day after his death.

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