Throughout his life Pope John Paul II reached out to people all over the world. Many millions came to Rome today to attend his funeral - among them more than 200 heads of state, kings, queens and princes and representatives from many faiths. Thousands slept overnight in St Peter's Square in order to get a place near the altar. Before the start of the funeral Mass for John Paul II in St Peter's Square Pope John Paul's body had been placed in a simple cypress coffin and closed in the presence of a number of witnesses. Among those present for this rite were Cardinals Martinez Somalo, camerlengo of Holy Roman Church, Angelo Sodano, former secretary of state, Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, Camillo Ruini, vicar for the diocese of Rome, Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and Archbishops Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Holy Father's personal secretary and James Harvey, prefect of the Papal Household. The coffin of John Paul II was carried to St Peter's Square in procession by the 'gentlemen on the Vatican household', placed on a carpet on the ground in front of the main alter and a book of Gospels was placed on top of the casket and opened. The procession included the College of Cardinals and the patriarchs of the Oriental Churches, all in red vestments, who kissed the altar before taking their places. Mass was presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and concelebrated by 164 cardinals. Millions of people who had come to Rome for John Paul's funeral but who could not be accommodated in St Peter's Square itself, watched the ceremony on 27 giant screens placed throughout the city, including at the two football stadiums, Tor Vergata University, the Circus Maximus, the basilicas of St John Lateran, St Mary Major and St Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Risorgimento near the Vatican, the Colosseum and Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading to St Peter's Square. Waving flags, pictures and posters, many of those in St Peter's Square, at various times during the Mass, called out for John Paul II to be proclaimed a saint. These calls, accompanied by sustained applause, began as Cardinal Ratzinger finished his homily A number of banners carried the words "Santo Subito" (a saint immediately) and "John Paul II the Great" and one, with his papal crest, saying "Pope John Paul II - saint." Following the prayer after communion Cardinal Ratzinger proceeded to the rite of the final recommendation and act of committal, standing by the casket of John Paul II. Cardinal Ruini then stood next to the casket, the cantors sang the Litany of Saints and the cardinal vicar then concluded the supplication of the Church of Rome with a prayer. At this point the patriarchs and archbishops major and metropolitans of the Catholic Oriental metropolitan Churches "sui iuris", went to the casket and, facing the altar, recited the supplication of the Oriental Churches from the Office of the Dead of the Byzantine liturgy. Everyone present prayed in silence and Cardinal Ratzinger sprinkled holy water on the remains while the choir sang a response. The casket of John Paul II was then brought into the Vatican Basilica to the place of burial as the faithful sang the Magnificat. Those present earlier at the closing of the casket accompanied it into the basilica. John Paul II was brought to the grotto area of St Peter's Basilica for burial in a rite presided over by the cardinal camerlengo. The cypress casket with the mortal remains of John Paul II was tied with red ribbons on which were placed the seals of the Apostolic Camera, the Prefecture of the Papal Household, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and the Vatican Chapter. It was then placed in the zinc and wood caskets which were soldered shut and covered with the seals of the aforementioned offices. On the top are the cross and coat-of-arms of John Paul II. Thousands of the pilgrims came from Poland, where the travel companies had halved the price of fares to Rome. The weather during the funeral was sunny with a light breeze. A short time after it ended the sky clouded over and it began to rain. Source:ICN/VIS
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