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Pope's Rituals Open, Moving


Active Member
Sep 10, 2004
The body of Pope John Paul II, his face placid, his pale hands clutching rosary beads, went on televised display Sunday as the Vatican began the long goodbye of a ritual-filled interregnum that will end with the election of his successor.

Fifteen hours after the pope's death, images from his private wake in the Apostolic Palace flashed around the world from Vatican cameras. Outside, a requiem Mass drew 100,000 worshipers to St. Peter's Square, where 2 million pilgrims are expected to converge for the Roman Catholic leader's public wake and funeral this week.

"He died with the serenity of the saints," Cardinal Angelo Sodano said in his homily at the Mass, recalling his final visit to the 84-year-old John Paul's deathbed in the papal apartment.

The crowd applauded and some fought back tears when Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read a posthumous appeal he said the pope had prepared — perhaps one of the last written messages of John Paul's 26-year reign.

"To humanity, which sometimes seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens the soul to hope," it said.

The Vatican released a report Sunday by the pope's personal physician stating that John Paul had died of septic shock and irreversible cardio-circulatory collapse. It also said he had suffered from Parkinson's disease, acute breathing problems, heart disease and a benign enlarged prostate complicated by a urinary infection.