NEW YORK—I arrived early Friday morning, after walking through the rain, at the St. Francis Xavier Church in Greenwich Village for the funeral of the Rev. Daniel Berrigan. I stood, the church nearly empty, at the front of the sanctuary with my hand on the top of Dan’s rosewood casket. It was adorned with a single red carnation and a small plaque that read: “Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan. Born May 9, 1921. Entered S.J. August 14, 1939. Ordained June 21, 1952. Died April 30, 2016.”
The walls of the Romanesque basilica had large murals, by German artist William Lamprecht, of the stations of the cross—Pilate’s condemnation of Jesus, Jesus collapsing under the weight of the cross, Jesus nailed to the cross and crucified. Lamprecht had muted the colors so each successive scene was darker and more ominous than the previous one. A Tiffany stained-glass window, with its glints of light, portrayed the Madonna and child. Over the large sanctuary, with its rows of wooden pews, hung soft, milky-white, bulbous lamps. The blue-veined marble altar, the graceful arches, the Carrera marble floor and the towering organ with its 3,323 pipes gave the moment solemnity and grandeur, although Dan relentlessly challenged the pomp and power of all institutions, including the church.