Memorial services have been held around the world as thousands of mourners gathered in Rome for the funereal of Pope on Saturday (12 August).
Memorial services have been held around the world as thousands of mourners gathered in Rome for the funereal of Pope on Saturday (12 August). In view of the anticipated crowd of up to a quarter-million people, the Vatican authorities decided to hold the funeral service outside in St. Peter's Square - the first time such a service has been conducted in the open air. Some 7,000 armed police and para-military troops were to be posted in and around the square to provide maximum security.
SYNOPSIS: The crypt of St. Peter';s Basilica will be Pope Paul's final resting place. His body was brought to the Cathedral last Wednesday (9 August) from the Papal Summer residence of Castelgandolfo where he had died three days earlier after a heart attack. Tens of thousands of people flocked to St. Peter's where the 80-year-old pontiff lay in state beneath Michelangelo's dome. In his last testament published on Friday (11 August) Pope Paul asked to be buried simply, with no monument or special tomb.
Among the foreign dignatories paying tribute to the late Pope was delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad who celebrated a liturgy for the dead.
Earlier, at Bogoyavlenski Cathedral in Moscow, the head of Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pimen, had praised Pope Paul's contribution to brotherly relations between the Russian and Roman Catholic Churches. The Pontiff had sought better relations with Eastern europe and was visited at the Vatican by President Podgorny in 1967 - the first such visit ever made by a Soviet Head of State. In a telegram of condolence at the Pope's death, Soviet President Leonid Brenzhnev said the pontiff would be remembered for his work for peace, detente and disarmament.
The half-hour memorial service in Moscow commemorated Pope Paul's efforts to promote mutual understanding among the churches.
At the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, a funeral mass was conducted by Cardinal Francois Marty who described the late pontiff as one of the great Popes of history and one he had loved deeply. President Valery Giscard d'Estaing headed the list of distinguished French public figures present at the service.
Among the French mourners were Prime Minister Raymond Barre and leading politicians.
Asia's only Christian country - the Philippines - marked the Pope's death with a pontifical requiem mass. It was conducted by Cardinal Jaime Sin at Manila Cathedral, one of the oldest Roman Catholic sites in Asia. President Marcos attended the service, accompanied by his mother and daughter. He has declared November 27 this year a national day of mourning. The date commemorates the start of Pope Paul's three day trip to the Philippines in 1970.
Jerusalem was another city visited by the late Pope, and here too Christians were been paying tribute to his achievements. In January 1964, in the early days of his 15-year- reign, Pope Paul caught the public's imagination by making a three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was the first Pope to retrace the steps of Saint Peter and was mobbed by crowds in the narrow winding Via Dolorosa of Old Jerusalem.
The pilgrimage made history by uniting Christians, Moslems and Jews for the occasion. Today, Jerusalem's mourners remember that occasion and Pope Paul's vision of the Church offering men a global vision of man and of the human race.