04/13/2005, 00.00
VATICAN

Three million mourners in Rome for Pope's funeral

Pilgrims continue to arrive to visit John Paul II's final resting place.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – More than three million pilgrims arrived in Rome from April 2 to 8, from the time Pope John Paul died till his funeral.

People paid their respects inside St Peter's Square at a rate of 21,000 per hour, 350 per minute, and at one point, the queue reached five kilometres (over three miles).

Waiting time averaged 13 hours with a maximum of 24.

On the day of the funeral half a million faithful crowded St Peter's Square; with another 600,000 watching from 29 giant screens set up around the city of Rome.

Some 400 disabled people took part in the ceremony in St Peter's Square.

The service was co-celebrated by 157 cardinals with 700 bishops and 3,000 priests in attendance.

In an addition to regularly scheduled train service, the faithful reached Rome on a thousand special trains—six special trains to and fro Poland brought 5,000 Polish pilgrims. Altogether 800,000 people came by rail.

About 5,200 buses made the journey, 1,200 crossing the Italian-Austrian border at the town of Tarvisio (north-eastern Italy) alone.

The world media zoomed in on the death and funeral of John Paul II. The press office of the Holy See released more than 6,000 accreditation and more than 80 TV stations broadcast the funeral live whilst a total of 137 networks from 81 countries in five continents covered the event.

The flow of pilgrims is now directed at John Paul II's final resting place, in the Vatican crypt.

Italian and foreign pilgrims, among them many Poles, student groups and tourists, are visiting the tomb where the Pope lies buried.

Yesterday, the cardinals paid their respect before the Pontiff's tomb. (LF)

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