Some of the people responsible for finding Richard III are asking that his remains be no longer kept in an university laboratory, but be coffined in a holy place until his reburial in March.
The Looking For Richard Project has started an online petition asking that the remains of the 15th century English king, which were found in Leicester in 2012, be coffined in a holy place of his own faith.
Philippa Langley, who led the 7½-year search for Richard III and commissioned the archaeological dig under important pre-agreed conditions. These included allowing his remains, once identified, to lie in a holy place. She says, “We wanted him to lie in a chapel of rest. They refused. Now we are petitioning for the very least you would want for anyone, and especially for your war-dead: to be coffined reverently in a holy place of his own religion.”
Dr John Ashdown-Hill is the historian and genealogist whose discovery of Richard III’s mtDNA in 2005 led to identifying the king. He has donated a crown and rosary for the March re-interment. The rosary will be placed in the king’s coffin and was recently blessed at Clare Priory.
He adds, “Our petition has support from concerned people of all backgrounds and faiths. It’s a simple request and there is still plenty of time. No religious objections have been raised in Leicester – they just lack the will to do it.”
Already Catholic Churches from throughout England are collecting signatures for the petition. One of the organizers of the petition, Mary Jepson, explains “Respect for the dead is a mark of civilised society. Please sign if you think that the mortal remains of a known person, whether Catholic, Jew or Muslim, prince or pauper, deserve to be coffined in surroundings that reflect their religious faith.”
The Online Petition is now open and will close on Tuesday 24 February 2015 when the results will be handed to the re-interment board in Leicester.