Burial in a church

What is the current position of the Church on burying deceased in churches? I know it was “normal” for Catholic nobles and important figures to be buried in a church in ye ol’ days, in a side chapel or in the floor (even in the wall I once saw!). I would very much like a reference from the Code of Canon Law and not the national laws because I know that in most countries who have adopted the Code Napoléon this is forbidden.

Canon 1242:

Bodies are not to be buried in churches unless it is a question of burying in their own church the Roman Pontiff, cardinals, or diocesan bishops, including retired ones

This is the 1983 Code; canon 1205 §2 of the 1917 Code says more-or-less the same with the inclusion of royalty. I’m not sure of regulations before canon law was first codified in 1917; as you say it was at times much more common than the current restrictions would allow.

In Europe burial in the churches changed during the Napoleonic era due to public health concerns. There is a famous poem by Ugo Foscolo title “The sepulchers” that was written in regard to the event. I think that at that point the Church just adapted for uniformity. BTW the first King of Italy was buried in the church of St. Mary and the Martyrs (a.k.a. Pantheon) in Rome well after the Napoleonic laws were gone and that is consistent with the canon of 1917 even if pre-dated it.

Can’t the Venerated. Blessed, Saints also be buried in Church?

Thank you for the link:)

The Kings of the Belgians and their family members are still buried in the Royal Crypt underneath the Church of Our Lady of Laeken. Comments on this?

(Interesting fact: King Leopold I of Belgium was a Protestant. He was also buried in the Crypt underneath the Catholic church but was placed in the Crypt through a tunnel from outside the church to the Crypt because they didn’t want his “Protestant remains” to be carried through the church.)

Firstly, perhaps there is a difference between being buried in a crypt (which is, by definition, set aside for burials) and being buried in the church or chapel itself. Secondly, the 1983 refers only to new burials – it certainly does not mandate the removal of bodies already interred!

Technically its not a burial anymore as the relics are venerated.

I think some parishes which can afford it would have enough ground to have a burial ground beside the parish. I`ve seen modern ones with mausoleums.

The last archbishop of Seattle was buried in the cathedral. There is space for 7 more.



Thank You:)

I am not sure about the status of a crypt underneath a church. It’s part of the construction, but… I do remember that there can’t be a grave right underneather the altar.

And new burials? For example: King Baudouin I of Belgium was interred in 1993 in the crypt. But, I guess you are right that a crypt underneath a church is “okay” since it is not the place of worship itself.

Anton Bruckner, an Austrian composer/organist is burried in under the large organ in St. Florian in Linz.

I grew up in the Philippines and I’ve moved a lot in my time there. One of the churches I went to (Taal Basilica) actually has folks (mostly benefactors) buried in the walls and floor. I remember as a child being particularly creeped out by this particular gravestone and its skull-and-crossbones. :wink:

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