Pope John Paul II interred - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Pope John Paul II interred

(Vatican City-AP) April 8, 2005 - Pope John Paul is now in his final resting place. The Vatican says he has been buried in the grotto under St. Peter's Basilica.

The pope had requested he be interred "in the bare earth." He was buried among past popes and near the tomb traditionally believed to be that of the apostle Peter, the first pope.

Before he was buried, the wooden coffin was definitively closed with red bands and both papal and Vatican seals. It was placed in a second casket of zinc, and then within a third of walnut.

Unlike his funeral Mass, the burial was closed to the public. Instead, it was witnessed by top church officials. And the service ended with the words: "Lord, grant him eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him."

It's being called the biggest gathering of the rich and humble in modern times. A huge crowd studded with royalty, dignitaries and common folks has said goodbye to Pope John Paul.

At least 300,000 people flooded St. Peter's Square and nearby streets for the two-and-a-half-hour funeral Mass. The huge crowd applauded as a simple cypress coffin was brought out at the start, and again as it was taken inside St. Peter's Basilica for burial alongside past popes.

At one point, chants went up urging that John Paul be immediately elevated to sainthood. One of the pontiff's closest confidantes told mourners he's convinced the pope was looking out and blessing them, while emotionally pointing to the window where John Paul often spoke to the faithful.

President Bush wasn't well received by some of the crowd in Vatican City. The president led a funeral delegation that included his father and former President Clinton. But some outside St. Peter's Square booed and whistled when Bush's face was shown on giant screen TV's.

It was an early morning for many Americans today who watched Pope John Paul's funeral. Many went to churches to view the Mass while others watched from home or at work.

Chicago's huge Polish population filled a church where he had celebrated Mass three times, the last as pope in 1979. Many in Cleveland gathered in the pre-dawn darkness at a massive church to watch the funeral on a projection screen flanked by a portrait of John Paul.

Dozens more watched the funeral on a screen at a downtown Los Angeles church the pope visited in 1976.

Pope John Paul's funeral has been marked from Singapore to Austria and points between by people of many faiths. Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral was filled to capacity by people watching the funeral on giant screens, with hundreds more gathering outside in the rain.

Thousands of Filipinos gathered in a seaside park where ten years ago the pope had the largest audience of his papacy, some four million people.

An Australian cricket ground hosted about 14,000 people for a memorial service. Another service in predominantly Muslim Malaysia drew representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu communities last night.

Pope John Paul's 81-year-old cousin says it was "beautiful" and yet "really sad to watch" all at the same time. Bronislaw Wojtyla, the pope's cousin on his father's side, had to watch the funeral for one of his closest living relatives from his home in Poland. Wojtyla only walks with crutches, but says that his daughter and grandchildren were at the Vatican today.

The pope sent his cousin a letter late in March, the last written communication the man says he had with the pontiff. Wojtyla says the letter shows the pope "must have known he was dying."

Updated 3:14pm by BrettWitt

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