Vatican City — Responding to Pope John Paul II's request, the Vatican will depart from centuries-old tradition by ringing bells in addition to sending up white smoke to signal the election of his successor.
Before he died Saturday at age 84, John Paul also made his wish known "to be buried in the ground" and not placed in an above-ground tomb, Archbishop Piero Marini said Tuesday. He will buried in the tomb left vacant after the remains of Pope John XXIII were exhumed from the cramped grotto under St. Peter's Basilica in 2001 and moved to the main floor following his beatification.
John Paul will be laid to rest with a white silk veil on his face, a rosary in his hands and his body clad in liturgical vestments and the white miter. Following the centuries-old custom for burying popes, his body will be placed inside three coffins -- wood, zinc and wood -- a design meant to slow decomposition, the Vatican confirmed.
One of John Paul's wishes, Marini said, was for bells to ring in the announcement of a new pope to avoid confusion over the color of the smoke coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
Black smoke signals no decision has been made after a papal ballot, while white smoke means a pope has been elected.
"This time we plan to ring the bells to make the election of the pope clearer," Marini said, recalling wrong calls in past elections.