Q:

What is a funeral vigil?

A:

Quick Answer

A funeral vigil is an opportunity, sometimes involving a formal ritual, to spend time with the body of the deceased before burial or other disposition. Viewings and wakes are examples of funeral vigils.

 Know More

Full Answer

Perhaps as long ago as the Paleolithic period, mourners sat with dead bodies prior to burial. In some cultures, this was to protect the body from predation. In others it was to watch the spirit rise and witness for the deceased. In many cultures, the vigil became a point of law, both to prove that the person was dead and to preserve the body, often in situ, as evidence.

In modern society, the funeral vigil is primarily considered a Catholic rite. In “The Vigil: Making Room for God,” H. Richard Rutherford describes the vigil as a “period spent doing something through the night, for example, watching, guarding or praying.” The liturgies of the Word of God and of the Hours form the basis of Catholic funeral vigils.

The formal funeral vigil is similar to a wake, essentially a party (perhaps held in a bar with the coffined body present) held the night before a funeral to celebrate the life of the deceased. Viewings of the deceased, whether at a funeral parlor, in a church or in the home, can also be considered funeral vigils.

Learn more about Christianity

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a great Christian funeral song?

    A:

    The hymn "Now the Green Blade Rises" is an appropriate funeral song that touches on the issues of death and new life as well as how Christians can find hope and comfort in their faith. The song "All My Tears" by Julie Miller is a contemporary song for Christian funerals.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do you plan a candlelight vigil?

    A:

    To plan a candlelight vigil, a person must determine where the vigil will be held, what time it will be held and who to invite. It is common for the vigil to be held at the locale of the deceased death, or in their favorite place.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What was the Avignon Papacy?

    A:

    The Avignon Papacy is a period of time from 1309 to 1378 in which the seat of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church was relocated from Rome to Avignon. The period is also sometimes called the "Babylonian Captivity" by critics.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the basic beliefs of the Greek Orthodox faith?

    A:

    The Greek Orthodox Church follows beliefs and practices laid out in the first seven ecumenical councils, which date back to the first ten centuries A.D. The word orthodox translates to “right believing,” and followers of the Greek Orthodox faith have preserved and strictly followed the traditions and doctrines of the early churches established during that time. Two fundamental beliefs ascribed by practitioners are that the Spirit and Son originate from the Holy Father and that the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition hold equal value and importance.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore