The body of Catholic Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy was laid to rest Thursday in a crypt below the altar of St. James Cathedral after an elegant funeral Mass.
“The church was his life … his life!” Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, who presided, said in closing remarks to the crowd of 2,000 jammed into aisles and corners of the sunlight-filled cathedral.
He thanked the archbishop’s family for his ministry and the crowd broke into sustained applause.
Murphy died June 26 at age 64 after suffering a brain hemorrhage while undergoing treatment for leukemia.
Hundreds stayed after the 150-minute Mass to witness the entombment. The crypt, which has remained empty since the cathedral was first built early in the century, was opened.
Trumpets, then a lone bagpiper, played as family members cried and somber priests and church members watched. Ropes were used to lower the casket into the southwest corner of the crypt, where it was moved into one of eight places.
Murphy had spoken often of his wish to be entombed there.
The elaborate funeral, some details of which were specified in Murphy’s last wishes, began shortly after noon.
The coastal Salish people and members of other Indian tribes prayed at the altar and casket, striking drums and chanting.
The funeral followed vigil services in four cities, following the archbishop’s last wishes.
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