Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mourning World Gets First Glimpse of Pope

By DANIELA PETROFF, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II's body lay in state at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on Sunday, and Vatican television showed the pope's remains clad in crimson vestments, his head covered with a white bishop's miter.

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The powerful images gave the world its first glimpse of the late pontiff since his last public appearance Wednesday. John Paul died Saturday evening at 84 after suffering heart and kidney failure following two hospitalizations in as many months.

The Vatican released the pontiff's official death certificate Sunday, saying he died of septic shock and an irreversible cardio-circulatory collapse and listing the ailments he suffered from, including acknowledging officially that the pope had Parkinson's disease.

In the Apostolic Palace's Clementine Hall, two Swiss guards stood at attention on either side of the pope's body, which was placed in front of a fireplace adorned with the Vatican coat of arms, a crucifix standing to one side and an ornate candle burning on the other.

John Paul's head rested on several golden pillows, and a rosary was placed in his folded hands. His pastoral staff was tucked under his left arm. His feet were clad in soft brown leather shoes — the same kind of shoes he almost always wore even in major ceremonies.

The Clementine Hall is a large, 17th-century salon covered by frescoes and located near the papal apartment where John Paul died. He often used the hall for audiences with world leaders.

A colossal chandelier with a green patina hangs from the center of the rounded ceiling, which includes images of angels reaching for the Holy Spirit represented as a white dove.

Prelates and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi were among those who stood in line to pay their respects. John Paul's longtime personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, sat in prayer in a pew and then greeted prelates and dignitaries. At times he was seen wiping tears from his eyes.

The top Vatican officials in attendance included the close papal aide Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, American Cardinal Edmund Szoka, Polish nuns and the pontiff's personal doctor. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the late pope's vicar for Rome, prayed on his knees by the pope's body.

The Vatican Swiss Guards also lined up to pay their respects, removing their plumed helmets before kneeling and praying before the pope's body.

A message and prayers were read in Latin by the Vatican camerlengo, or chamberlain, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo of Spain.

"With the reverent pilgrimage in front of his remains, we thank God for the good that through him was given to his church, and we implore his mercy for the faults that our pastor has committed due to human weakness. We beg the Lord to welcome him into his kingdom and to grant him the prize for the trials that he endured for the Gospel," he said.

The viewing was carried live on Italy's other television stations.

"Our Holy Father looks very much at peace. It was very satisfying for all of us to see him so serene," Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles said after visiting the room where the pope's body lay in state.

"He was such a brilliant light for the world," he said, comparing Pope John Paul's life to the candle burning on his bedside.

The pope died very serenely Saturday evening, "like Jesus," he said.

The pontiff's body was put on display at 12:30 p.m. for officials of the Roman Curia, authorities and the diplomatic corps.

The body will be transferred from the Apostolic Palace on Monday afternoon for public viewing in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican said the ancient ritual of the confirmation of the death and the certification of death was carried out at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

In the past, the ritual had involved tapping the pope's head three times with a silver hammer, but the last version of the official Vatican document outlining the procedures does not mention the silver hammer, saying only that the camerlengo "must officially ascertain the pope's death."


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