The Visitation from a Catholic Perspective

One of the important stages of the Catholic funeral is the visitation, or vigil. When you are making funeral arrangements in San Jose after the loss of a loved one, you will need to determine when, where, and for how long to hold a visitation. Typically, the director and clergy helping you plan the funeral services will assist you in making these decisions. Here is a look at what you need to know.

What Is the Visitation Service?

The visitation is also called a vigil or a wake. During this time, the family and friends of the person who has passed away gather together to remember the life of their lost loved one and to provide support to each other. It is also a time for prayers and to ask for consolation and strength. The casket is typically present at the visitation, and loved ones may knee before it in private prayer. The visitation is usually held at a funeral home and may take place over the course of one day or multiple days before the funeral service, for a few hours at a time.

What Happens at the Visitation?

In addition to family and friends offering condolences and providing support to each other, a vigil services is also held. The vigil is a Service of the Word, with readings from the Scripture. Families can also choose to have prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours Office for the Dead. Because the focus of a visitation is on the life of the deceased, eulogies may also be included in the service. The Catholic Church generally discourages eulogies at the funeral liturgy, since the purpose of the Mass is to commend the person who has passed away to God and to worship, rather than simply being a way to express grief.

Who Attends a Visitation?

Visitations are attended by family and friends of the deceased. Sometimes, friends of the family of the deceased also attend, even if they didn’t know the person who passed away, in order to pay respects and offer their support.


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