Inside George Pell’s final resting place

“Having a crypt with a grave [of] Important leadership is a very old tradition,” he said. But “not at the end of the altar, but at the west end”. (The crypt is traditionally to the east of the cathedral.)

The cathedrals were lined from east to west, and only after the builders had established the east side of the cathedral, usually with a crypt, were the crypts made.

Senior Constable Peter Kelly with a collection of bones found in a suitcase in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Alcock

It now rests with seven other former Archbishops who served in Sydney: John Bede Polding, Roger Bede Vaughan, Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran, Cardinal Michael Kelly, Cardinal Norman Thomas Gilroy, Cardinal James Darcy Freeman and Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy.

Apart from the extensive history of the people buried there, the Crypt is also home to two historic moments in Sydney’s history..

In 1973, a bomb exploded in the upper hall, crashing through the basement ceiling and damaging the floor. This was his fourth reported bombing in Sydney, resulting in a shocking series of attacks across the city.

According to the New South Wales Police Annual Report for that year, interrogations focused on a man who had failed to be detained before two more in Canberra and one in the Houses of Parliament. Details were passed to ACT police and the man was arrested. He was later put into a mental hospital.


In 1993, a “suitcase full of human bones” was left on the balcony of the basement. “Two skeletons, a pelvis, numerous teeth, finger bones, and an incomplete spine” were wrapped in the pages of his 55-year-old newspaper, the masthead reported at the time.

Pell’s body will be buried after arriving in Sydney after a service at the Vatican in the coming days.

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