His first tomb
in the old basilica was located at the northern wall of the shrine
of the Holy Veil. It was a simple coffin with a convex lid. Later,
the elaborate funerary monument of Nicholas V was located at its
side. The inscription on the front was a eulogy of Marcellus II
and an excuse for the modest burial he was given. On September 15,
1606, the tomb was opened and the pope's body was found intact.
It was then taken to the grottoes and deposited in a sarcophagus
that had recently been found during excavations for the new basilica.
On the front
of this ancient sarcophagus is the figure of the Savior with the
scroll of the new law, standing on a rock with four mystic rivers
flowing from underneath. The 2 figures of young men on the sides
may represent the Disciples. On the sides are 2 strigilled panels
and on the corners two figures of men holding scrolls who may represent
the Apostles Peter and Paul and are looking toward Christ.
the lid is the coat-of-arms of the pope and a brief inscription
from 1606, dictated by the pope's nephew, Cardinal Bellarmine.
Under the sarcophagus
is a Renaissance marble base with a plate in the center and fruit
festoons on the sides. Immured above the sarcophagus is a marble
plaque with the coat-of-arms of the pope.
In his 1955
guidebook to the Grottoes, Iohn de Toth stated that the figures
on the corners of the 4th century sarcophagus were the likeness
of the christian couple whose bodies were previously placed there.