St. Peter's Square: The gathering

 Many thousands of people were gathered in St Peter's Square last night. Dozens of TV crews operated discretely at the back of the square but the central domain was reserved for the faithful. Young and old, Italians and foreign visitors, more and more had been crowding in for the last few days to join in prayers and hymns lead by groups on the steps of the Basilica or simply to gaze up at the dimly-lit windows of the Pope's apartment. There was a gentle breeze and at times all that could be heard was the sound of the fountain. When the news came of the Holy Father's death just at the end of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, a hush came over the crowds. Some people wept and hugged each other, groups began to pray and there were outbursts of spontaneous clapping. Then most people continued to stay where they were. A small line of figures appeared and walked into the basilica. A few minutes later the huge bell began to toll. Throughout the night as some groups began leaving they were replaced by new sets of people many dressed as though they had just come from bars and clubs, determined to spend some time with their beloved Holy Father.

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