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“After having lived among us for many years, Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez is now celebrating an eternal Resurrection with the Lord in the heavens.”

With these words, Cardinal Emeritus from Seville, Carlos Amigo Vallejo, gave the last farewell to the only Puerto Rican cardinal at the funeral Mass held in his honor at the San Juan Metropolitan Cathedral, prior to closing the sarcophagus specially made at an annex chapel.

Eleven priests dressed in their red chasubles as a sign of grief carried the casket with the remains of Aponte Martínez to their final resting place. Eleven bishops from the Puerto Rico diocese joined Cardinal Amigo Vallejo in giving their blessing to the tomb, minutes prior placing it in its white marble interior, while the stanzas of Salve Regina echoed in the chapel as they lowered the casket.

“May our brother rest in peace until the day of resurrection and may he benefit from the goodness of your Grace,” said the emeritus cardinal in a final prayer facing the tomb.

This way, as it was nearly 6:00 p.m., the funeral Mass for the cardinal concluded, following several stages that began last Wednesday. The cardinal passed away after a prolonged heart disease. Over the past week, his remains were taken to Lajas, San Germán, Ponce and San Juan.

The space at the San Juan Cathedral fell short for the large number of parishioners who came to witness the funeral Mass, attended by dozens of priests and deacons, the bishops from the eleven dioceses, auxiliary bishops and emeritus bishops.

Pope Benedict XVI issued his condolences from the Vatican in a message that was read at the end of the mass by the Apostolic Nuncio in Dominican Republic and pastoral delegate for Puerto Rico, Josef Wesolowski.

“I join you all in entrusting the mercy of our Heavenly Father on this pastor who with so much charity and simplicity has served his people (...) In this moment of grief, I am pleased to place upon you the comforting apostolic blessing as a sign of faith and hope of the Risen Lord,” read the message from the Pope.

Meanwhile, the Catholic community has overflowed with emotions, as it has expressed its wish to beatify Cardinal Aponte Martínez.

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