Ned Kelly’s burial next to his mother on Sunday is expected to be painful for many of his descendants.
Just over 132 years after his death, Kelly will finally have his wish granted to be buried in consecrated ground alongside family in the small town of Greta, in northern Victoria.
This will follow a full requiem Mass for Kelly in Wangaratta tomorrow.
Kelly’s grave, like that of his mother, Ellen, won’t be marked.
The family is acutely aware of the public interest but yesterday made several pleas for privacy.
“We don’t want it to become a circus — it is a private family burial,” said Joanne Griffiths, the great-granddaughter of Kelly’s sister Grace.
“There’s a lot of pain involved, particularly for the elders of the family.
“These are people who have kept quiet for generations.”
Kelly's burial became possible after his remains — minus his still missing skull — were positively identified two years ago.
His skeleton was unearthed in 2009 at the old Pentridge Prison site, where it had laid undisturbed since being re-buried there 80 years earlier.
Kelly had been buried at the Old Melbourne Jail after his execution on November 11, 1880.
The identity of his skeleton was confirmed after DNA extracted from the bone was matched to mitochrondrial DNA from the blood of Melbourne art teacher Leigh Olver, a direct descendant.
Damage to the skeleton also matched injuries Kelly suffered during his capture at Glenrowan.
Hundreds of relatives — including at least 200 from three direct lines of Kelly’s parents, John “Red” Kelly and Ellen Kelly — are expected to attend the service and burial.
The service will be held at St Patrick’s Church and is expected to begin about midday.
“Our wishes are that it is private, it is for family,” Ms Griffiths said.
“But of course with churches you don’t usually shut doors, certainly not in the heat.”
A statement released by the family yesterday drew attention to a letter dictated by Kelly — he couldn’t write because of a gunshot wound to his right hand — the day before he was hanged.
In his letter to the governor he asked for his mother to be released from jail before he died, then pleaded to be granted permission “for my friends to have my body that they might bury it in consecrated ground”.
Kelly’s request was refused.
The family decided to hold the service and burial on separate days in the hope that the latter, at the very least, would be accorded greater privacy.
“Obviously it is a family member we are burying here, someone who was loved,” Ms Griffiths said.
“We want to give him the most respectful and dignified mass and burial we possibly can — that’s what any person would want for their family member.”