Pelé’s widow leads thousands of mourners at 24-hour open casket wake for football icon


Pelé’s widow has led thousands of mourners at a 24-hour open casket wake for the Brazilian football icon.
Marcia Aoki was pictured placing a cross pendant on her late husband’s body after his coffin arrived at the stadium where he first took the world's breath away.
His open casket – bearing Pelé’s nickname ‘The King’ – will be displayed until Tuesday at the Vila Belmiro, home to three-time World Cup winner Pelé’s longtime club Santos.
The display started on Monday morning (02.01.23) in the centre circle of the stadium under an awning surrounded by bouquets of white flowers.
Pelé’s son Edinho was one of the pallbearers who carried in his coffin, which was placed on a temporary platform then slowly opened to reveal his dad’s remains.
His mum was later seen hugging Edinho, as thousands of fans queued to pay their respects to Brazil’s most famous son.
Pelé will be laid to rest on Tuesday in a vault at the Memorial Necropole Ecumenica, half a mile away from the stadium that made him famous.
It was his request to be buried in the vertical cemetery so he could forever watch over his beloved football ground.
One of the mourners at the wake was Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes, who told reporters: “It is a very sad moment, but we are now seeing the real meaning of this legendary player to our country.
“My office has shirts signed by Pelé, a picture of him as a goalkeeper, also signed by him, DVDs, photos, a big collection of him.”
Before Pelé is taken to the cemetery, a procession will be held through the streets of Santos, which is around 50 miles from the state capital Sao Paulo.
It will pass the house of Pelé’s mother, 100-year-old Celeste Arantes, who is said to be unaware her son has died.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé became renowned as the world’s best footballer after starting out selling peanuts on the street to help his poverty stricken family, going on to score 1,283 goals in a career spanning more than two decades.