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Catafalque

Catafalque

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A catafalque is a raised bier
Bier
A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin or casket containing a corpse, is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave.In Christian burial, the bier is often placed in the centre of the nave with candles surrounding it, and remains in place during the funeral.The bier is a flat frame,...

, soapbox, or similar platform, often movable, that is used to support the casket
Casket
A casket, or jewelry box is a term for a container that is usually larger than a box, and smaller than a chest, and in the past was typically decorated...

, coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

, or body of the deceased during a funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 or memorial service. Following a Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, a catafalque may be used to stand in place of the body at the Absolution of the dead
Absolution of the dead
The Absolution of the dead is a series of prayers for pardon and remission of sins that are said in some Christian churches over the body of a deceased believer before burial.-Roman Catholic practice:...

.

The term originates from the Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 catafalco, which means scaffolding
Scaffolding
Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures. It is usually a modular system of metal pipes or tubes, although it can be from other materials...

. The most notable Italian catafalque was the one designed for Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 by his fellow artists in 1564. Catafalque decorations are known as castrum doloris
Castrum doloris
Castrum doloris is a name for the structure and decorations sheltering or accompanying the catafalque or bier that signify the prestige or high estate of the deceased. A Castrum doloris might feature an elaborate baldachin and would include candles, possibly flowers, and in most cases coats of...

.

Lincoln Catafalque



In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the Lincoln catafalque
Lincoln catafalque
The Lincoln catafalque is a catafalque hastily constructed in 1865 to support the casket of Abraham Lincoln while the president's body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The catafalque has since been used for all those who have lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda, as listed...

, first used for Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's funeral in 1865, has been used for all those who have lain in state
Lying in state
Lying in state is a term used to describe the tradition in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased. It traditionally takes place in the principal government building of a country or city...

 in the Capitol Rotunda since Lincoln's death. When not in use, the catafalque is kept on display in the Exhibition Hall at the United States Capitol Visitor Center
United States Capitol Visitor Center
The United States Capitol Visitor Center is a large underground addition to the United States Capitol complex which serves as a gathering point for up to 4,000 tourists and an expansion space for the US Congress. It is located below the East Front of the Capitol and its plaza, between the Capitol...

.

The Lincoln Catafalque is a simple bier of rough pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 boards nailed together and covered with black cloth. Although the base and platform have occasionally been altered to accommodate the larger size of modern coffins and for the ease of the attending military personnel, it is basically the same today as it was in Lincoln's time. Presently the catafalque measures 7 feet 1 inch (216 cm) long, 2 feet 6 inches (76 cm) wide, and 2 feet (61 cm) high. The attached base is 8 feet 10 inches (269 cm) long, 4 feet 3½ inches (131 cm) wide, and 2 inches (5 cm) high. The platform is 11 feet 1 inch (338 cm) long, 6 feet (183 cm) wide, and 9¼ inches (23.5 cm) high. Although the cloth covering the catafalque has been replaced several times, the style of the drapery is similar to that used in 1865.

Lincoln's catafalque was most recently used on July 1, 2010 when Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

lay in repose on the floor of the Senate. It was noted by commentators that the structure of the original pine timbers and boards has been reinforced, albeit being left 'original'.