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Farewell, John Paul II


In an emotional funeral service, frequently interrupted by applause, John Paul II was remembered for his spiritual devotion, his legacy of service, and his courage during his final years.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, center, blesses coffin containing body of Pope John Paul II, during funeral mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday
Hundreds of thousands of mourners took part in the outdoor ceremony, including dignitaries of many faiths and countries.

The Pope's plain wooden casket, engraved with a cross and an "M" for the Virgin Mary, was carried by 12 pallbearers from Saint Peter's Basilica, where the pope was lying in state the past week, into the square.

The casket was placed on a carpet in front of an alter. A large red book of scriptures was placed atop the coffin, its pages rustled in the breeze.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, a close confidant of John Paul and a possible successor, presided over the Mass.

In his homily, he called John Paul a "priest to the last" and said he offered his life for God and his flock "especially amid the suffering of the final months."

Millions of Roman Catholics around the globe joined in simultaneous memorial services in their own countries.

In the pope's native Poland, some 800,000 people gathered in a vast field in Krakow to sing hymns and watch the funeral on video screens.

Schools and businesses closed across the country as Poland mourned a national hero.

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