EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE: Cardinal Prospero Grech’s funeral this morning
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The Vatican paid its last respects to Cardinal Prospero Grech where a Mass was said at St Peter’s Basilica before his coffin brought to Malta for burial.
The funeral was celebrated by the Deputy Dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, with Malta represented by President George Vella, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech. At the end of the celebration, Pope Francisco incensed and blessed the coffin.
In his homily, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re said that Cardinal Grech always made God a priority. He said that Cardinal Grech was a religious man, of deep spirituality, a man who loved the Church and religious life. He said that until last Monday, Cardinal Prospero Grech had lunch among the Augustinian community in Rome, recounting stories in his affable manner, and just a few hours later, God called him to go and join him. He said that although he was 94 years old, it was a sudden death, which he was definitely prepared for.
Cardinal Battista Re said that central to Cardinal Prospero’s life was the learning and teaching of theology, first in Malta and then at universities in England and Rome. He went on to say that apart from a life dedicated to studying and teaching, Cardinal Prospero Grech always found time for pastoral work at the Chapel of Santa Monica in Rome, including hearing confession.
Pope Francis presided over the last part of the funeral rites by incensing the coffin and saying the final prayers including the benediction. Before the funeral, at the International College of Santa Monica which, in the hours before, was exposed to the public, the Vatican official carried out what is called “Rogito”, which means notifying and recording the closing of the coffin in an official document, a rite carried out on the death of every cardinal.
With the death of Cardinal Prospero Grech, the College of Cardinals now has 223 cardinals, 124 of them eligible to vote to elect a new Pope and 99 other non-voters, (over the age of 80), as was Cardinal Grech.
Still, Cardinal Grech had a connection with two conclaves. In the last conclave, in 2013, he was chosen to lead the meditation the cardinal electors before they elected Pope Francis. Interesting to note is that the Cardinal Prospero Grech heard the last confession of the Cardinal of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, in June 1963, before he was elected Pope Paul the Sixth.
At the funeral, the Maltese state was represented by President of Malta, George Vella and Ms. Vella. Also in attendance were Minister for Foreign Affairs Carmelo Abela who represented the Government, and the Malta Ambassador to the Vatican City State, Frank Zammit. Among the concelebrants were Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, Bishop Mario Grech, the Prior General of the Augustinian Order Fr. Alejandro Moral Anton and the Provincial of the Maltese Augustinian Province, Fr Leslie Gatt.
The Maltese Augustinian Province is undergoing preparations so that in the coming days, the mortal remains of Cardinal Grech be brought Malta with a view to a Mass presente cadavere before burial.