Great Australian Authors #30 - Morris West


Morris West (1916 - 1999)

The Pope was dead. The Camerlengo had announced it. The Master of Ceremonies, the notaries, the doctors had consigned him under signature into eternity. His ring was defaced and his seals were broken. The bells had been rung throughout the city. The pontifical body had been handed to the embalmers so that it might be a seemly object for the veneration of the faithful. Now it lay, between white candles, in the Sistine Chapel with the Noble Guard keeping a death watch under Michelangelo's frescoes of the Last Judgment. The Pope was dead. Tomorrow the clergy of the Basilica would claim him and expose him to the public in the Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament. On the third day they would bury him, clothed in full pontificals, with a mitre on his head, a purple veil on his face, and a red ermine blanket to warm him in the crypt. The medals he had struck and coinage he had minted would be buried with him to identify him to any who might dig him up a thousand years later. They would seal him in three coffins - one of cypress; one of lead to keep him from the damp and to carry his coat of arms, and the certificate of his death; the last of elm so that he might seem, at least, like other men who go to the grave in a wooden box.

From The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West, 1963

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 20, 2006 9:29 AM.

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