Mourners pay respects as Cardinal Keeler lies in repose ahead of funeral

Nearly 200 mourners gathered Monday at the Basilica of the Assumption for a rite that officially welcomed the body of Cardinal William Keeler, the former head of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to the house of worship he helped renovate during his 18-year tenure as archbishop.

Attendees filed past the cardinal's open casket, many pausing to pay respects to members of the family of the 14th archbishop of Baltimore.

Keeler retired in 2007 as the head of the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States. He died Thursday at age 86.

Keeler was to lie in repose until 7 p.m, the starting time of a Vespers service in his honor, then continuously through the night until about 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Sean Caine, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said members of the public may pay their respects during those hours.

Keeler's body is then to be moved to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland, where it is to lie in repose between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., preceding the cardinal's funeral at 2 p.m.

Archbishop William E. Lori is to celebrate the funeral Mass, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, acting as homilist.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis were among those in attendance at the service Monday, a rite performed for church officials of the highest stature in advance of their funeral Mass and interment.

Victor Brice of Parkton said he was thankful for the opportunity to honor a man he said made a huge impression on him when they met socially.

"He did so much for so many elements of the community," Brice said. "I'm humbled to pay my respects today."

Keeler is to be buried late Tuesday afternoon in the crypt beneath the altar at the basilica, joining eight of his predecessors as archbishop.

In 2001, Keeler oversaw the restoration of the basilica to the original vision of its designer and architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The multimillion-dollar project included improvements to the infrastructure and the construction of a chapel.

Lori, who officiated at the rite Monday afternoon, was to lead the Office of the Dead, a Vespers service, in the evening.

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