Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kaddish for the Cardinal

Providentially on this memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross -- the Jewish-born Carmelite Edith Stein, killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz 65 years ago on this date -- Paris began its final farewell to the son of another victim of the infamous camp as Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger was lain in state in Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Immediately prior to his funeral Mass tomorrow, the retired prelate -- born to Jewish parents in the French capital 80 years ago -- will be mourned in the tradition of his forebears; in accord with Lustiger's "last wish," La Croix reported, several of his relatives will observe Judaism's customary rites for the dead in the square outside the cathedral. One cousin will recite Psalm 113 in Hebrew and French, and another will lead the assembled in the singing of the mourner's Kaddish.

Also, "soil collected from the Holy Land (at the monastery Saint George of Kosiba, close to Jericho, and at the garden of the Mount of Olives), carried to the Wall of the Temple of Jerusalem, Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre before being sent to France," will be sprinkled on Lustiger's coffin before the liturgy begins, the paper reported.

The cardinal, who died on Sunday at 80, will be buried alongside his predecessors in the Notre-Dame crypt. However, as a former chief rabbi of France recounted to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week, the nation's ranking Catholic was often found at the City of Light's main synagogue saying kaddish for his mother.

Gisele Lustiger lost her life at Auschwitz in the same year as Edith Stein.

Reuters/Regis Duvignal