What’s a Catholic Casket? Types, Traditions + Costs

Updated

Burial is a highly personal process, and many families research all of their options before coming to a decision. With so many different types of caskets, it’s no surprise many choose religious caskets to honor their particular beliefs. In the Catholic faith, this means keeping many things in mind related to both the funeral and burial. 

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There are many things that make a Catholic funeral and burial stand out compared to other religious funerals. Whether you’re honoring a Catholic loved one or you simply wish to learn more about these types of caskets, it’s important to understand key differences. 

What exactly is a Catholic casket? What different types are available, and what traditions are they used for? In this guide, we’ll give an overview of everything you need to know about Catholic caskets. 

What’s a Catholic Casket?

A Catholic casket is designed specifically for a believer in the Catholic church. To have a Catholic funeral, you typically need to be baptized and confirmed within the church. While exceptions are occasionally made, these are usually the requirements for seeking out a Catholic casket. 

What makes a Catholic casket different is that the body is typically present for the funeral service. As such, there is usually a viewing or wake. The casket is a part of these traditions, and it has special features to allow for this. 

Additionally, Catholic caskets often have special religious symbols. This could be a cross or a prayer. Some of these caskets are created by skilled carpenters, while others are from sacred abbeys. A Catholic casket functions in the same way as other caskets, but extra care has been given to ensure it honors someone’s religious beliefs. 

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What Are the Different Types of Catholic Caskets?

There are several different types of Catholic caskets you’ll encounter. Many of these can be purchased online or in person, and the type you choose depends on many factors. The price of a casket also depends on the material, craftsmanship, and retailer. 

Wooden caskets

The most common type of Catholic casket is the wooden casket. These are usually made from solid hardwood, but they can also be made from a furniture-grade wood veneer. In Christianity, woodworking is a symbolic activity. Jesus himself was a carpenter, so handcrafted wooden caskets are highly desirable. 

When choosing a wooden casket, the price typically depends on the type of wood. Hardwood is more expensive, but you can find different finishes regardless of the material. These wooden caskets are adorned with crosses, religious symbols, and prayers. They can also be left simple. Wooden caskets have a wide range in price points, but they’re usually between $800 and $2,000.

Metal caskets

Metal caskets, though less traditional, are increasingly common. These are made from casket materials like bronze, stainless steel, or copper. Bronze and copper are the most expensive, and they are naturally resistant to rust and staining. 

Like wooden caskets, metal caskets can be customized with colors, gold plating, and designs. More Catholics are choosing metal caskets in recent years since they can be affordable and easy to find. Lower-end metal caskets begin at around $700, while higher-end, expensive caskets can be upwards of $3,000. 

Biodegradable caskets

More and more Catholic cemeteries are utilizing biodegradable technology. A biodegradable casket is made out of all-natural materials, meaning it’s a “greener” option compared to wood or metal. These caskets are made from cotton, willow, cardboard, bamboo, and other natural materials.

More funeral homes and cemeteries carry these caskets than ever before. Though they are not a traditional Catholic option, many Catholics appreciate the natural return to nature. For those who are more open with their final wishes, this can be an affordable, respectful option. Biodegradable caskets are anywhere from $200 to $1200, depending on material and craftsmanship. 

Rental Caskets

In the past, the Catholic church frowned upon cremation. However, these rules are changing. The Catholic church now allows cremation as long as it’s not done for non-Catholic reasons. This means rental caskets are more popular than ever before for Catholic funerals. 

Because wakes or visitations are common, those who cremate loved ones usually don’t wish to purchase a casket that will only be used for the service. A rental casket is a wood or metal casket with a removable insert so it can be reused. Though the body appears to be fitted specifically to the casket, this is only used for the service. 

A rental casket is the most affordable choice. Though you will still need to pay for the cremation and the casket liner, this starts at around $700. 

What Are the Traditions Associated With Catholic Caskets?

There are many traditions associated with Catholic caskets to keep in mind when shopping for one for a family member or yourself. These unique traditions might affect the appearance and function of the casket. 

Casket sprays or flowers

The casket is often covered in flowers, whether they’re in the form of a wreath, a full casket spray, or just a few bouquets. These are placed by family members as a final sendoff, and they symbolize the purity of the soul. 

Open vs. closed casket 

It’s also common for there to be an open casket at Catholic funerals. While this is a personal decision for the family, the casket is usually left open for the viewing or wake. 

Some families might choose to have a closed casket if they’ve opted for cremation or if the deceased passed in a violent way. Otherwise, the family might keep their privacy by having a smaller, intimate viewing for only close friends and family. 

Because the casket is usually open, it’s common to have a half-couch vs. a full-couch casket. These are designed to open at the waist, allowing the face to be viewed. In some Catholic traditions, family members kiss or touch the deceased as a final goodbye. 

Where Can You Buy Catholic Caskets?

There are many places you can buy Catholic caskets, and some of them might be a surprise. It’s important to shop around for the perfect casket, especially if you’re hoping to save on costs or find something unique. 

Funeral home or cemetery

Your first place to search would be at your local funeral home or cemetery. These are a great resource for seeing a variety of caskets and materials in person. They also might allow some customization. 

However, choosing to purchase through a local funeral home is often the most expensive choice. It’s often worth the convenience since there are no shipping or transportation fees. 

Trappist Casket

A specialty provider like Trappist Caskets ensures each casket is handmade and blessed by a monk. Created by the monks of New Melleray Abbey, these caskets are created by hand with premium woods. 

With simple wooden caskets starting at $1,550, there are options to suit every budget. For something unique and crafted with care, this is a great choice for Catholic caskets. 

Abbey Caskets

Another specialty Catholic casket provider is Abbey Caskets. Established in 1999 by the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, these handcrafted wooden caskets are built to the specifications of religious leaders. 

With caskets in both the traditional and monastic style, these are respectful, classic, and spiritual works of art. Note that each casket can take up to 6 weeks to complete since many of the products are built on demand. 

Green Burial Council

For an eco-friendly option, the Green Burial Council offers green caskets online. Made from natural materials and designed to be returned to nature, each of these is crafted with care and concern for the individual. 

The Green Burial Council certifies a variety of providers across the globe who offer eco-friendly burial materials, so you can find the perfect option no matter your budget or style. 

Trusted Caskets

Lastly, you can find any type of casket imaginable from a large online retailer like Trusted Caskets. With metal and wood caskets, it’s possible to find something simple, intricate, or built-to-order. 

There are a variety of Catholic caskets on Trusted Caskets, whether you want a specific prayer, cross, or another religious symbol. You can find a number of special discounts, making this an affordable option. 

Catholic Caskets and Your Final Resting Place

There are a lot of traditions and symbols that set Catholic caskets apart from other religious caskets. Though they come in many shapes, sizes, and materials, these caskets perform an important role in their final sendoff. 

These Catholic traditions are also rapidly evolving to meet new customs and modern needs. From eco-caskets to cremations, religious traditions adapt to face the next generation of Catholics. Ultimately, caskets are a personal choice and part of someone’s legacy. What does this mean to you and your family?

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