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12:12 p.m. - 2005-04-08
Pope John Paul II, now our angel

Pope John Paul II buried in Vatican crypt
Millions around the world watch funeral

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II was buried Friday in a crypt under St. Peter's Basilica after a funeral Mass that millions of people around the world watched.

Guests attending the elaborate open-air service in St. Peter's Square cheered and applauded, many chanting "Santo, Santo" -- a call for John Paul to be canonized. Some pilgrims who came from the pope's homeland waved Polish flags.

"Today, we bury his remains in the earth as a seed of immortality -- our hearts are full of sadness, yet at the same time of joyful hope and profound gratitude," Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in the homily during the Mass.

Tens of thousands of people, including hundreds of world leaders, paid a final tribute to the leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics, while others watched the ceremony on giant TV screens. (Full story)

In Poland, 800,000 people gathered in a vast field in Krakow to watch the funeral, many having spent the previous night attending Mass and gathering around bonfires. (Full story)

As the Vatican ceremony began, a single bell tolled while distinguished guests took their seats outside the cathedral church -- the same place where, in 1978, Karol Wojtyla first emerged as John Paul II.

Applause erupted as John Paul's coffin -- topped with a cross and an "M" for Mary -- was brought out into the windy square from St. Peter's Basilica.

Before the public Mass began at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET), the pope's body was placed in a cypress coffin during a private ceremony. (Funeral rituals)

In a ritual new to the procedure, a white silk veil was placed over his face and a special prayer said.

By tradition, various medals, imprinted with the dates of the pontificate, were placed in the coffin, along with a parchment, sealed in a lead tube, summarizing the pope's life. (Document tells of pope's life)

Twelve pallbearers carried the casket out of the church and into the square.

The book of the Gospel was placed on the coffin, and a breeze blew its pages as the Vatican's Sistine Choir sang the Gregorian chant "Grant Him Eternal Rest, O Lord."

There followed a procession of 160 cardinals, dressed in bright red vestments.

The German-born Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals and a possible successor to the pope, read the homily tracing the pontiff's life from his days as a factory worker in Nazi-occupied Poland to his last days as the head of the church.

Ratzinger said John Paul was a "priest to the last" and said he had offered his life for God and his flock "especially amid the sufferings of his final months."

"We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us," Ratzinger added, pointing to the window where John Paul made his final public appearance. (The homily)

Up to 2 million people gathered in Rome to mourn the pope, who died Saturday at 84.

At least 300,000 people filled St. Peter's Square and spilled out onto the wide Via della Conciliazione leading toward the Tiber River, as several hundred thousand others watched on giant video screens set up across the Italian capital.

"It is our last chance to say goodbye," a Polish woman said, explaining why she made the journey.

Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers and more than 14 leaders of other religions were attending alongside the faithful.

President Bush, the first sitting U.S. president to attend a papal funeral, headed the delegation from the United States. Britain's Prince Charles postponed his wedding for a day to attend.

Accompanying Bush were his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Clinton.

The crowds of mourners presented security challenges for Italian authorities.

Metal detectors were installed in St. Peter's Square, and security forces were increased to 15,000, including 1,500 military forces, an official said. (Full story)

Two Italian F-16 fighter jets intercepted a suspicious plane heading to Rome's Ciampino airport Friday, hours after the funeral, The Associated Press quoted Italian news agencies as saying.

The ANSA agency said the Lear Jet 131 was searched after landing and no bomb was found. An initial report from the news agency quoted intelligence sources as saying it was feared a bomb might be on board the plane, according to AP.

City officials predicted that 5 million pilgrims will have visited the Vatican this week.

"We've never seen a funeral like this, with the millions of people that are coming to Rome ... to be here to celebrate the life of John Paul II," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Catholic magazine America. (More from Rome)

The Vatican on Thursday published John Paul II's 15-page spiritual testament in which a reflective pontiff considered having his funeral in Poland. (Full story)

The College of Cardinals has met daily to plan the funeral and a conclave that will choose the pope's successor.

After nine days of mourning that follow the funeral, the conclave is set to begin April 18, and 117 cardinals -- all younger than 80 -- are eligible to attend. (Election rituals)



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