An offbeat almost-artifact tied to one of our nation’s most iconic figures is coming to Mesa.
A replica of President Abraham Lincoln’s coffin will be displayed May 28-30 at Queen of Heaven Catholic Mortuary near Gilbert and Baseline roads.
And whether you consider it a fascinating bit of history or just a wee bit morbid, it’s bound to elicit curiosity.
“It’s very unusual, especially when you compare it to today’s casket designs,” says Harry Antram, director of funeral services for the Diocese of Phoenix’s cemeteries and mortuaries. “It was probably very stylish for the time. In today’s words, I think we’d call it somewhat simplistic, aside from the fact that it has some eccentric designs to it.”
Modeled after the 6-foot-6-inch, solid walnut, lead-lined box the president was buried in, the flat-topped coffin, which narrows from the shoulders to the toes, is covered in black cloth and decorated with sterling silver studs and handles.
Four such replicas tour the nation, according to a spokeswoman at Batesville, the Indiana casket company that made them. A fifth is a permanent fixture at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
Lincoln died April 15, 1865. After public viewings and a funeral in Washington D.C., the president’s coffin traveled by rail to Springfield, where he was buried. Along the way, crowds of mourners came out to pay their respects in a series of funeral processions and viewings. It’s estimated 1 million Americans saw Lincoln in his coffin before his burial.
Antram said reservations were made months ago to get the coffin to Arizona in time for Memorial Day, when his mortuaries will honor veterans in services expected to draw hundreds.
In 1876, law officers foiled a plan by grave robbers to steal Lincoln’s body. According to information provided by Batesville, the president was eventually buried in a more secure monument, where his coffin was placed in a cage 10 feet deep and encased in 4,000 pounds of concrete.
The exhibition is free of charge. Visitors will get to take home a prayer card bearing Lincoln’s image and a pamphlet of historical information, if they like. The 2012 movie “Lincoln” will screen continuously in the Visitation Room where the coffin is displayed.
Queen of Heaven is at 1562 E. Baseline Road. For information, call (480) 892-3729.
Lincoln’s replica coffin will also be displayed May 24-27 at the newly opened Holy Cross Catholic Mortuary in Avondale.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or firstname.lastname@example.org