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Pope Benedict Offers Special Prayer on Anniversary of John Paul II's Death

Pope Benedict XVI has offered a special prayer at the exact moment his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, died one year ago.

The pope prayed before tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered under his window in St. Peter's Square.

He said John Paul II continues to be present in minds and hearts.

Benedict's message was broadcast live to thousands in Krakow, near John Paul's hometown in southern Poland.

Vatican officials say up to 10,000 people a day visit the pope's tomb underneath St. Peter's Basilica.

John Paul II died April 2, 2005 from heart and kidney failure which followed several illnesses including severe arthritis and Parkinson's disease.

John Paul II was the first Polish-born pope, and first non-Italian to lead the Church in 450 years when he was elected in 1978 at the height of the Cold War. He became revered by non-Catholics for efforts to reach out to other religions and minorities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.