Over 4 million weary pilgrims are leaving Rome
The funeral ceremony of Pope John Paul II is over in the Vatican. The pontiff's body was taken out of the St.Peter's Basilica onto the square, on which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, read out the text of the homily in Italian. It took three hours for the funeral mass to last. After that the coffin with the pontiff's body was buried in the Basilica's burial vault.
All cardinals were dressed in red, the color of mourning. Prayers were read in Latin, Italian and many other languages of Europe, Africa and Asia. The Pope was buried in the underground vault underneath the floor of St.Peter's Basilica, where many of his predecessors rest in peace.
Over 200 world leaders, governmental officials and other VIP guests arrived in Rome to participate in the funeral ceremony of the Pope. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were one of the first guests to honor to take their seats near the entrance to St.Peter's Basilica. About 300,000 faithful were also present on St.Peter's square. All other pilgrims were watching the ceremony on giant TV screens, which were installed on Rome's largest squares.
Thousands of people organized picnic grounds and tent camps all across Rome's squares and parks. Pilgrims had to spend the night in sleeping bags; a lot of people had nothing to do but to lay blankets down and sleep on the ground.
About four million pilgrims inundated Rome since John Paul's death. Young people dressed in jeans and jackets, carrying backpacks were mixed in the huge crowd with nuns and priests.
The city authorities took urgent measures to avoid emergent situations during the massive outflow of pilgrims from Rome. The authorities organized three so-called human corridors, on which the pilgrims would be directed to bus and railway stations.
Thousands of Polish citizens gathered on squares of Poland nationwide to watch the funeral ceremony of the Pope on giant TV screens. Young people brought sandwiches and chocolates along not to starve during the three-hour ceremony.