Rev. Billy Graham to be laid to rest with a bible in casket made by convicted murderers

ASHEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - A bible was placed in the casket along side Charlotte-born evangelist Reverend William Franklin "Billy" Graham Jr. who was known as "America's Pastor."

Graham died just before 8 a.m. Wednesday from natural causes at his family home in Montreat, NC, just outside Asheville. He turned 99 on Nov. 7.

On Thursday morning, Rev. Graham's body was moved from the Morris Funeral Home in Asheville, N.C., to the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.

On Friday, Rev. Graham's son, Franklin, said his father will be laid to rest with a bible and his casket was also positioned directly behind a pulpit.  "We felt this was symbolic since he stood behind a pulpit most of his life preaching the Gospel," Franklin Graham said.

Franklin Graham said his father "preached about Heaven, wrote books about Heaven—now he is IN Heaven. His faith has become sight."

Inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary had a hand in laying "America's Pastor" to rest. At Rev. Graham's request, Angola inmates built his plywood casket back in 2006, WAFB reported. Rev. Graham's son said the casket was made by convicted murderers.

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According to WAFB, the state penitentiary is home to a renowned prison ministry.

Angola inmates began building their own caskets about 18 years ago. Inmates before then were buried in cardboard boxes, which would often fell apart or caved in from the weight of the dirt, WAFB reported.

The inmates also constructed the casket of Rev. Graham's wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.

After an 11 a.m. prayer service on Saturday, there will be a ceremonial departure of the motorcade bringing Rev. Graham's body back to Charlotte and to the Billy Graham Library, scheduled to arrive at 3 p.m.

The motorcade is expected to depart from the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville around 11:25 a.m.

You can find the procession details here. Maps of the motorcade are available here.

Rev. Graham will lie in repose Monday and Tuesday inside the Graham Family Homeplace on the Billy Graham Library grounds. His casket will remain closed. The line will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., BGEA says.

There will be no public parking, but shuttle buses will run those wishing to visit to and from the library.

Rev. Graham's body will be brought to the U.S. Capitol to "lie in honor" in the Rotunda on Wednesday, Feb. 28 until Thursday, March 1, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday.

"Upon the arrival of Rev. Graham's casket, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will take part in a bicameral service," the release stated. "Rev. Billy Graham was an American evangelist and minister, internationally known for his devout faith, inherent humility, and inclusive nature."

Graham's funeral service starts at noon on Friday, March 2. The funeral will be private and open only to invited guests. Burial will follow.

Click here for continuing coverage on Rev. Billy Graham

About 2,300 people are being invited to the funeral, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and all of the living former U.S. presidents.

Rev. Graham spread the gospel in 185 countries and touched the lives of many.

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