Pope John XXIII's exhumed remains at St Peter's

Sunday 03 June 2001 21.56

The embalmed mortal remains of Pope John XXIII, who was beatified recently, have been exhumed after 38 years and paraded in public view at a ceremony in St Peter's Square in Rome. The pope died of cancer in 1963. His body was carried in a glass coffin to a new resting place in the Vatican where it will be visible to the faithful.

Thirty thousand attended a mass at which Pope John Paul II expressed the Church's gratitude to his predecessor for calling the Second Vatican Council which marked a major turning point in Roman Catholic history.

The body of John, who was beatified and put on the road to sainthood last year, was exhumed in January and found to be in surprisingly good condition. Although some thought it was a miracle, the conservation was in fact due to the work a doctor who secretly embalmed the dead pope with a special liquid. Pope John will join two other pontiffs placed in glass coffins inside the church. The others are Saint Pius the Tenth and Innocent the Eleventh.