Why the face of Pope Benedict was covered before his coffin was closed
There are a number of little gestures that take place before the coffin containing the body of a deceased pope is closed.
One of them, as we saw at Pope Benedict’s death, was the covering of his face with a little white cloth (a white veil) by his Personal Secretary and the current Master of Ceremonies of the Pope.
This is part of the rituals (ceremonies) prescribed for the burial of a pope.
Cardinals, Bishops and priests do not have this ritual at their burials. So why do we cover the face of a pope before he is buried?
The action has a deep spiritual meaning. There is a passage from 2 Cor. 3:16-18 that says that “they will turn to God and he will remove the veil from their face”.
This is the spiritual meaning for the action. Death is like a veil that blocks us (covers our face) from seeing God. And it is only God who can remove this veil from our face on the Resurrection Day.
And so the pope’s face is covered so that on the Last Day God Himself will remove the veil from his face and call him back to life so that he will see God face to face.
The covering of the face of the pope also means that it is hidden permanently from this world with all the things that happen in it until that day when it will behold the face of God forever.
This is the symbolism, the meaning behind the covering of the face of a pope before he is buried. In fact, all the actions that were done are a silent way of the Church speaking to us without words.
They have spiritual meaning behind them and are to help us look at death in a new way.