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Thousands Pack St. Peter’s Square for Public Viewing of Pope


Funeral services for Pope John Paul II will be held Friday morning at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

The Vatican says the Pope will be buried in the Saint Peter's Basilica grotto, where pontiffs throughout the ages have been laid to rest.

Mourners have begun making their way past the body of John Paul as he lies in state.

Vatican employees were allowed to file past the Pope Monday - before his body was moved from an inner sanctum of the Vatican for public viewing. Tens of thousands of pilgrims packed Saint Peter's Square Monday. Up to two million mourners are expected to come to Rome to bid farewell to the Pope.

The College of Cardinals held a two-and-half hour meeting Monday, its first since the Pope's death. There's no word on whether the cardinals have set a date for the papal election conclave to begin. By church law, it must take place within two weeks of the burial.

Around the world Monday, Catholics remembered the pope and his impact on their lives. Some of the most emotional ceremonies are being held in the pope's native Poland. Children at one music school in Krakow expressed their love for John Paul. Piotri Olechowski, student, says "He was a second dad for me. He was like the best man in the world." Another student, Diana Zulawinska, echoed her sentiment, "I am very sad, and I love him."

Following Friday’s funeral mass, the pope's coffin will be carried into Saint Peter's Basilica and down to the Sacred Grottoes beneath the alter. The pope's family members, close friends, and Vatican employees follow the procession as the coffin passes through the so-called "door of death."

If the Vatican follows the tradition of many of John Paul's predecessors, his coffin will be lowered into a stone sarcophagus. He will become the 148th pope buried beneath St. Peter's in what is known as the Tomb of the Popes.

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