Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A decorated platform or framework on which a coffin rests in state during a funeral.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church A coffin-shaped structure draped with a pall, used to represent the corpse at a requiem Mass celebrated after the burial.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A platform used to display or convey a coffin during a funeral, often ornate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A temporary structure sometimes used in the funeral solemnities of eminent persons, for the public exhibition of the remains, or their conveyance to the place of burial.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A stage or scaffolding, erected usually in the nave of a church, to support a coffin on the occasion of a ceremonious funeral.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a decorated bier on which a coffin rests in state during a funeral

Etymologies

French, from Italian catafalco.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French catafalque, from Italian catafalco, of unknown origin. Compare scaffold. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A catafalque is of course what is used for the absolution of the dead without a body present.

    Reader Question: Constructing the Catafalque

  • So far as I can see then, the catafalque is simply constructed of a bier (a raised rectangular wooden box or metal stand of dimensions that would hold an adult sized coffin) which is then covered by the black pall, or the same, further with a type of symbolic coffin further placed upon it, similarly covered.

    Reader Question: Constructing the Catafalque

  • No monument or tablet, so far as I could learn, has ever been erected to the memory of those who perished in these two great disasters; but a catafalque is dressed, and candles are lighted, and a solemn commemorative mass for the souls of the lost and dead is performed in the church at Alleghe on the 21st of May in every year.

    Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys

  • And here's a word that many of us are only today beginning to understand what it means, it's a catafalque, which is a platform.

    CNN Transcript Jun 9, 2004

  • But if you go to the Capitol today, you will see the room where Washington was to have been buried, and that's where they store the catafalque, which is used in national mourning.

    Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation

  • At the beginning of the Mass, the casket was carried into the Oratory and placed on the catafalque, which is a raised platform used to support the casket.

    Clerical Whispers

  • But the King, in robes of purple and black, came to assist her from her palfrey before the beautiful entry of the Abbey Church, and led her up the nave to the desks prepared around what was then termed 'a herce, 'but which would now be called a catafalque, an erection supposed to contain the body, and adorned with the lozenges of the arms of Scotland and Beaufort, and of the Stewart, in honour of the Black Knight of Lorn.

    Two Penniless Princesses

  • It forms, in the middle of the circular nave of the church, a kind of catafalque of white marble: the cupola of cedar, in falling, might have crushed it, but could not have set it on fire.

    Memoirs To Illustrate The History Of My Time Volume 1

  • The title, McMillen explains, "... is both metaphoric and a bit literal," as the installation includes a looped screening of his new short film "Quotidian Man" which projected onto the billboard of the "Hotel New Empire," a kind of tilting film set raised on a catafalque of stilts over a tray of water.

    John Seed: Michael C. McMillen: Every Dream Is New

  • I have a clear view of Seth where I am croutched in the cave, and the flashing light makes his wrapped form look like a catafalque beneath the grey monument rock.

    Richard Bangs: Following Brad and Angelina to Namibia, Part III

Comments

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  • Me too. And JFK. Strange.

    April 20, 2009

  • Every time I see this word I think of Abraham Lincoln.

    April 20, 2009

  • "I move my kit in that evening. In the aisle is a catafalque mounted on a trestle. The catafalque is all black velvet with a great black cloth to cover the whole thing. What the hell! It looks great inside, so I make my bed in it. If I get killed in the night, I'm all ready."
    - Spike Milligan, 'Mussolini: My Part In His Downfall.'

    April 19, 2009