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Cremation, scattering of the ashes, and custody of the ashes

Cremation is a funerary ritual that is practised as an alternative to interment and entombment. It consists of incinerating the mortal remains of the deceased and gathering the resulting ashes for inurnment. The urn may be held in a cemetery, or at the home of the family of the deceased.
The ritual has been practised by peoples of a wide array of cultures and religions for millennia, and the procedure has remained more or less unaltered over the centuries. In ancient Greek and Roman tradition the ritual of cremation was considered to be an act of purification and a liberation of the spirit.
There now follows a brief description of how cremation takes place. The funeral rite of cremation involves the casket being incinerated in a crematory, situated in facilities built for the purpose located within some cemeteries. In the city of Milan there is a Crematorium located in the Lambrate Cemetery in Piazza Caduti e Dispersi in Russia. The facility provides for cremation, the gathering of the ashes (at which family members of the deceased are not expected to be present), and the consignment of the same. At the Lambrate Cemetery there is also a multi-faith room for the performance of religious rites other than Catholic or secular rites.
The ashes resulting from the cremation process are placed in an urn that is sealed and subsequently consigned to the relatives of the deceased or to a person who has been appointed by them for this purpose.
Today the cremation rite is the choice of millions of people around the world. In Italy cremation accounts for 8 to 10% of all funerals, and its use is growing around the country. In some cities, for example Milan, this rite is chosen for well over 50% of funerals. The city has a long tradition of cremation funerals: the Tempio Crematorio (since closed) was inaugurated at the Monumentale Cemetery in Milan in 1876 with a solemn ceremony that was closely followed by the newspapers of the time. Milan was the first city in Italy, and among the first in Europe, to adopt cremation as a funeral practice. It quickly became a model for other cities and countries to follow. The increase in demand for cremation, compared to other types of funerals, can be explained by some of its particular characteristics: cremation is considered a hygienic practice, and also has the advantage of requiring less space in the cemetery. Current Catholic teaching has also played an important role in the choice of cremation: while recommending that "the pious custom of burial be retained", the church "does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching" (canon 1176). Cremation is thus permitted by the Catholic Church, provided that the choice of such a practice is not dictated by the desire to deny the Christian dogma of the resurrection of the body.
Under the laws currently in force, cremation in Italy can be obtained via the express wishes of the deceased as declared in their will, or by their voluntary declaration of this decision to close relatives or next-of-kin before death. Cremation costs can vary on the basis of factors including place of residence, place of death, and eventual transport. Cremation in Italy can be carried out at a local public or private crematorium.
Nebulonghi can help you respect the wishes of your loved one. We will guide you through the procedures of all the administrative steps required by law, we will organise the funeral ceremony and the subsequent transport to the crematorium where the body will be cremated. We will also take care of acquiring, on your authorisation, the ashes, which can subsequently be held at a cemetery or, on request, entrusted to the family.
In Italy, it is currently possible to scatter the ashes, an option chosen in cases in which, for example, traditional funeral practices are not appropriate. Since the ashes are not a health hazard, they can also be stored outside the cemetery, for example at home, where they can help to honour the memory of the deceased in private, or they can be scattered in nature.
Once authorisation has been granted for cremation, the municipal authorities may authorise the spouse of the deceased, or the person entitled to take custody of the urn, to keep the funerary urn at their home, in accordance with current legislation. A request to take custody of the ashes can be presented by the person named by the deceased, the spouse, or a relative within the sixth degree. To obtain the urn, in Milan, for example, a specific request must be made to the Office of Funerals, Burials and Cremations. Permission to scatter the ashes must also be requested by presenting the appropriate documentation at the same office.
Following the cremation of the body the ashes may be scattered on the basis of the express written wishes of the deceased. The scattering may take place in specific designated areas within an authorised cemetery, in nature, or in a private outdoor area, with the consent of the owner. The person responsible for the scattering may have been chosen by the deceased themselves, or it may be the spouse, another relative, or a public official, the executor of the will, or a legal representative of the Cremation Association, in the case that the deceased was a member of the Association.