Casket Biers: What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?
There are many terms and phrases associated with a funeral that most people are not aware of. One such word is the casket bier or the coffin bier. You may have seen it used in funerals, without knowing what it’s called. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what a bier is, how it is used in a funeral and why it may be necessary.
What is a bier?
A bier is essentially a stand over which the coffin or casket is placed during a funeral service or a viewing. Linguistic experts have recognized that the word can be traced back to the German root of the word ‘to bear,’ indicating that the bier is used to bear or carry the casket or coffin. Some people also refer to a bier as a catafalque, which is actually a raised bier. A catafalque is also often more ornamentally designed than a standard bier.
The history of biers and catafalques
Historical records show that the word bier has been in use since before the 12th century. This indicates that biers were perhaps in use since then. Catafalques, on the other hand, are commonly used in requiem masses. The word ‘catafalque’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘scaffold’ — catafalicum. These ornamental biers have been used in funerals since the 15th century or so.
Using standalone biers in funerals
There may not be any recorded cases of caskets being used without a bier, but the converse is definitely possible. The body of the departed person is placed directly on the bier for viewing. This was actually done during the funeral of Pope John Paul II, whose remains lay in state in Saint Peter’s Basilica for the funeral viewing. Many other funerals have also seen the use of biers without a corresponding coffin or casket.
Casket Vs Coffin - Difference Between Caskets And Coffins
The evolution of biers today
Biers today are not merely used to hold the coffin or casket. They are also capable of transporting the casket easily from one location to another. When you shop around for biers today, you may find that most biers are similar in size and function, but may vary in design. They typically come with concealed or semi-concealed wheels that can be used to transport the coffin or casket easily. For this reason, biers are also now called ‘church trucks.’ Furthermore, since biers are not buried along with caskets, they can be reused in different funerals.
When is a bier required?
If you are planning the funeral ceremony of a loved one, you may be wondering whether a bier needs to be included in the list of items you need to purchase. While the final decision is yours to make depending on the nature of the ceremony and the budget you have in mind, here are some scenarios in which a bier may be required:
- If you are arranging for a viewing before the burial
- If you do not have a casket but want to have the deceased person’s remains lying in state
- If you need to transport the coffin or casket from one place to another
- If you have a coffin or casket that needs a stand to hold it in place during the ceremony
Shop around for biers or rent one
In case you decide that you need a bier for the funeral ceremony you are planning, you can shop around locally or online, compare prices and then make an informed purchase. Another option is to check with local or online retailers if they rent out biers, so you can save some money in the process. Additionally, whether you decide to rent or buy a bier, ensure that it is suitable for the size of the casket you have purchased.