Thousands of mourners streamed past the body of John Paul II for a second day Tuesday to say a personal farewell to the pope who leaders from many nations hailed as a torch-bearer for peace, bridge-builder between faiths and a force in the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Following the death of the 84-year-old pontiff on Saturday, Rome began bracing for an unprecedented flow of pilgrimswhose numbers may match the city's own 3 million residentsfor the days leading to Friday's funeral, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, a line stretched for miles along the wide avenue leading up to St. Peter's Square and through the streets of the neighborhood that surrounds the Vatican.
John Paul's body was later removed from the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, where it had lain in state for prelates and dignitaries. Twelve pallbearers in white gloves, flanked by Swiss Guards in medieval uniform, bore the pope's remains on a scarlet platform to the basilica.
Tens of thousands filed past the body of John Paul II after the Vatican threw open the doors of the basilica on Monday night and cardinals decreed that he should remain on view for three days and nights until his burial in the basilica's grottoes.
Meanwhile, tributes continued to pour in for a man who defied dictators, fought for the dispossessed and denounced dissent within his own Church.
Before his death Saturday night in his apartment, John Paul II was one of the longest-serving and most distinguished figures in papal history, serving as the spiritual leader for the worlds Roman Catholics for longer than all but two of his predecessors and was credited with helping bring down communism in Europe and spreading a message of peace during his frequent travels around the world.
During his pontificatethe third longest in 2,000 yearsJohn Paul II was the most widely traveled pope in history, making visits to 129 countries. He was also the first to visit the White House, a synagogue and communist Cuba.
Only two of his 263 predecessors served longer than he didSt. Peter, the first pope, and Pius IX in the 19th century.
A profoundly conservative leader, John Paul II reaffirmed many of the church's stances on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and the role of women in the church.
Despite criticism, he remained unwavering on those and other stances, including his preference for centralized authority within the church, which some saw as hindering a move toward a more democratic church.
Hundreds of dignitaries are expected to attend John Paul's funeral this Friday, in a city that will virtually shut down for all other purposes. According to AP, Prince Charles of Britain postponed his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles by a day so he could represent Queen Elizabeth II at the funeral. Others attending will include the heads of Muslim states and a delegation from communist Cuba. President Bush will also attend.
Immediately after the funeral, John Paul will be laid to rest with regal pageantry and in the presence of kings, presidents and prime ministers, alongside popes of centuries past near the traditional tomb of the first pope, St. Peter, AP reports.
There had been speculation that the pope might have left orders to be buried in his native Poland, but the Vatican said John Paul "did not show any such wish."