On Thursday evening (September 3), during a private ceremony for family and close friends, Michael Jackson was laid to rest at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, inside an enormous structure called the Great Mausoleum.
The building’s architectural design was inspired by the Campo Santo in Italy, an elaborate cemetery constructed in the 13th century and used as a burial ground for Italian elites for hundreds of years. The Great Mausoleum has been called the “New World’s Westminster Abbey” by Time magazine, according to Forest Lawn’s Web site.
The mausoleum contains a stained-glass reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and replicas of Michelangelo’s most famous sculptures. The grounds also house what Forest Lawn calls two of the world’s largest paintings — “The Crucifixion” and “The Resurrection” — as well as original bronze and marble statuary, rare coins and 13th-century stained glass.
The not-for-profit Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks and Mortuaries administers several sites in the Los Angeles area. In early July, less than two weeks after his passing, reports indicated Jackson was to be buried at the Forest Lawn location in Hollywood Hills, California, but that ceremony never took place.
The Great Mausoleum is normally open to tourists but has been closed since Wednesday because of Jackson’s burial and will reportedly reopen on Friday. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, celebrities interred at Glendale include Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Sammy Davis Jr. and Walt Disney. It is not yet known what type of access tourists will have to Jackson’s grave site.
At Thursday’s ceremony, held adjacent to the Great Mausoleum, Jackson’s five brothers — Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy Jackson — served as pallbearers, according to a statement released by family representatives. Jackson’s three children placed a crown on the casket at the beginning at the service.
Pastor Lucius Smith, who also spoke at Jackson’s memorial at the Staples Center in July, opened the service with a prayer and read from Ecclesiastes 3:7. Motown legend Gladys Knight sang the hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” and songwriter Clifton Davis sang the Jackson 5 song “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Among those who delivered eulogies were Jackson’s father, Joe, and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Following the service, Jackson’s brothers carried the casket into the Great Mausoleum, where he was finally laid to rest.