|Cardinals pray in front of tomb of late Pope John Paul II in grottos of St. Peter's Basilica|
The officials say hundreds of faithful began filing past the tomb early Wednesday. The burial site lies under Saint Peter's Basilica, covered by a plain white-marble slab and etched with his name and dates of his pontificate.
Next Monday, Roman Catholic cardinals will begin their conclave to elect the pope's successor.
Separately, the Vatican says at least three million pilgrims visited Rome in the week following Pope John Paul's death on April 2, with an average of 21,000 mourners an hour filing past his body.