Pope Francis to preside over Holy Mass at Rome’s Verano cemetery
(Vatican Radio) On the evening of All Saints and on the eve of All Souls, as he did last year, Pope Francis is to preside over Holy Mass at Rome’s Verano cemetery. Following Mass he will bless some of the tombs there and expose the relics of Saints John XXIII and John Paul by a statue of Our Lady that stands in the cemetery.
Earlier on Saturday the pope himself commented on the meaning of this visit to Rome’s Verano cemetery: “This afternoon I will go to the Verano cemetery and will celebrate Mass for the souls of the dead. In visiting Rome’s main cemetery, I am united in spirit with those who in these days visit the graves of their dead in cemeteries around the world.”
The monumental cemetery of the Verano takes its name from a family of importance that once lived there at the time of the Roman Republic: the ‘Verani’. The location has been a burial site since Roman times.The present cemetery is striking in its grandeur and owes its lay-out to well known Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier.
The cemetery was consecrated in 1835 and work continued there during the pontificates of Gregory XVI and Pius IX under the supervision of Virginio Vespignani who later designed a large four sided portico at the entrance.
However the cemetery was partially bombed by Allied forces in 1943 and the ensuing restoration work undertaken leads to what one can see there today on entering the cemetery: three great entrances and four imposing marble statues depicting meditation, hope, charity and silence.
Interestingly the cemetery has a monument to the fallen of the First World War which began exactly a century ago.