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This is more of a historical question, but what happens if a person is buried in unconsecrated ground versus being buried on consecrated ground? I was watching a documentary earlier and it described a cemetery where lower class women+children-notably prostitutes-were buried on unconsecrated ground.
What happened to the first Christians who died and were buried before there were any consecrated grounds to be buried in?
It's a nice pious custom to be buried in consecrated ground, but probably not strictly necessary. Melkite asks a provocative but worthy rhetorical question.

(04-03-2016, 02:49 PM)Melkite Wrote: [ -> ]What happened to the first Christians who died and were buried before there were any consecrated grounds to be buried in?

That is a good question. I don't know.
Only whole Catholic cemeteries are consecrated, and that the graves of the faithful be specially blessed can be traced to at least the time of St. Gregory of Tours (mid 6th cent.).

It is fitting that a Catholic be buried in consecrated ground, but the Roman Ritual provides for the case where the ground is not already blessed or consecrated. When the body is borne to the grave, the priest can then bless that particular grave in a non-consecrated cemetery, before interment.

If the ground is already consecrated, the service at the graveside is quite short. A few prayers are recited and then the body is interred.

It ought to be noted that the November Indulgences for the Holy Souls which can be gained by the visit to a cemetery at least originally referred to a consecrated or at least solemnly blessed cemetery, and certainly applies only to a Catholic cemetery or at least to the visit of a blessed grave in a public cemetery.
(04-03-2016, 03:53 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: [ -> ]Only whole Catholic cemeteries are consecrated, and that the graves of the faithful be specially blessed can be traced to at least the time of St. Gregory of Tours (mid 6th cent.).

It is fitting that a Catholic be buried in consecrated ground, but the Roman Ritual provides for the case where the ground is not already blessed or consecrated. When the body is borne to the grave, the priest can then bless that particular grave in a non-consecrated cemetery, before interment.

If the ground is already consecrated, the service at the graveside is quite short. A few prayers are recited and then the body is interred.

It ought to be noted that the November Indulgences for the Holy Souls which can be gained by the visit to a cemetery at least originally referred to a consecrated or at least solemnly blessed cemetery, and certainly applies only to a Catholic cemetery or at least to the visit of a blessed grave in a public cemetery.

Interesting.  I would think there may have been cases in history where epidemics have resulted in mass burials by the state ( like the Spanish Flu)  where Catholic burials on consecrated ground just were not possible (?)
I think we should focus on the state of our soul when we die. What does it matter if we are buried in the holiest ground if our souls are in mortal sin and we are in Hell? St Theresa of Avila wrote about how she saw the devils playing with the body of someone who had been given a very solemn Catholic burial.
If you are in Heaven and your body is laying at the side of the road what would you care. I would be grateful just to get to Heaven. .
(04-03-2016, 09:38 PM)The Tax Collector Wrote: [ -> ]I would think there may have been cases in history where epidemics have resulted in mass burials by the state ( like the Spanish Flu)  where Catholic burials on consecrated ground just were not possible (?)

I am sure that was the case more than a few times.

I am also sure that, where possible, a priest would have at least blessed the ground before such burials.

In fact, there are probably many cases where bodies had to be incinerated due to disease, and could not be properly buried.

Remember that Catholic burial in a consecrated cemetery is the ideal, and like a sacramental. It does not give grace per se, but encourages the living to visit the tombs and pray. Because your coffin was sprinkled with holy water and incensed by a priest in a cope, will, of itself, do nothing for your place in purgatory or heaven. Accompanied by the prayers of the priest and faithful, along with the encouragement to visit and gain indulgences for your soul, it can do wonders.

As such, such a burial is not necessary, and may be impossible due to circumstances. Were it to be willfully neglected when possible and reasonable, or to despise it, one could hardly be excused from sin.

The careful treatment of bodies is for the living, so to help them understand their own mortality, the need to respect the body as a temple of the Holy Ghost, the need to pray for the deceased, and the goodness of God and the Church to so lovingly care for the bodies of the faithful.