Thousands attend funeral of Polish president



Tens of thousands of people waved flags and threw bouquets of flowers as the funeral cortege of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria passed through the streets of Krakow on Sunday, on the way to their Requiem Mass at St Mary's Basilica.

The Mass was led by Krakow Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz. The Kaczynskis' daughter, Marta, and the president's twin brother, Jaroslaw, sat in the front row as Mozart's Requiem was played.

After the Mass, the bodies of the first couple were carried in a funeral procession across the ancient Old Town and up Wawel hill, the historic seat of kings where a fortress wall encircles a castle. They were laid to rest in the 1,000-year-old Wawel Cathedral overlooking the Vistula River - which is the burial place of many Polish kings, leaders and artists.

Floral tributes and messages were sent by many world leaders, among them US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were unable to attend the funeral because of the volcanic ash cloud which has paralysed air travel in most of Europe since Thursday.

In Polish communities around the world, special Masses were held for the victims of the Smolensk plane crash throughout the weekend.

At the Church of St Andrew Bobola in Shepherds Bush, in west London, on Friday, a special Memorial Mass was celebrated for parish priest Mgr Bronislaw Gostomski, who perished in the crash. So many people attended the Mass that crowds knelt on the pavement outside the church throughout the service.

Fr Bronislaw's funeral will take place next Thursday, 22 April in St Benedict's Church in Sierpc, Poland. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at the same time, 1pm, in Fr Bronislaw's London parish.

To read Fr Bronek's obituary see:

See also: London: Polish community mourns parish priest

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