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Pope Laid to Rest as World Mourns

And noting the ailing pope's appearance at his apartment window on Easter to bless the crowd below, Ratzinger said: "We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us."

The funeral began when the pallbearers brought the simple wooden coffin out of the basilica. A cross and the letter M, for Mary, were laminated on the lid, and a papal aide placed a volume of the Gospels open on top, allowing the pages to blow symbolically in the wind. A chorus chanted in Latin: "Lord, grant him eternal rest."

A Greek Catholic prelate burns incense over the coffin of Pope John Paul II as other Eastern Rite bishops offer prayers toward the end of the funeral Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. (Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)

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About 160 cardinals, of whom 117 are younger than 80 and therefore eligible to help elect the next pope, sat to the left of the coffin, as seen from the square. World leaders, mostly in dark suits, sat to the right.

The homage to John Paul brought together politicians who otherwise might never dream of being in the same pew. President Bush sat not far from President Mohammad Khatami of Iran. Syrian President Bashar Assad sat behind Israeli President Moshe Katsav, and they shook hands.

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe rubbed shoulders with European Union leaders who have banned him from traveling to their countries. (Italy allowed him to land because he was on his way to the Vatican, a sovereign city-state that is not part of the E.U.) Britain's Prince Charles shook hands with him.

The fervor among those in the crowd was evident. Many were veterans of the arduous line to view John Paul's body inside the basilica, where it had been on display since Monday afternoon. Banners praised John Paul as "Our angel." Church groups waved colorful handkerchiefs, and many were clustered under their national flags.

When the outdoor rites were over, Elena Sardu blew kisses toward the basilica's big bronze doors as the coffin was carried inside. "I feel an emptiness, an uncertainty," she said. Sardu and her family had waited in line from about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday until 3 a.m. Thursday to pass by the pope's body. Her husband came close to taking their three children home. But "they all said they wanted to stay and see him," Sardu said.

Sardu, 33, said she, her husband and their children, Mattia, 12, and twins Martina and Vanessa, 7, had been blessed -- touched on the head -- by the pope seven years ago when he visited their neighborhood church in Rome. "It was so emotional, indescribable," she said. "He touched my heart. I don't see how anyone can take his place." Near the end of the funeral, her children helped raise a sign that read: "Giovanni Paolo II, you'll always be in our hearts."

In the early morning, pilgrims and Romans strolled toward St. Peter's; automobile traffic was prohibited along many streets until 6 p.m. Police eyed the crowd as civilian volunteers handed out water and ensured that pedestrians did not leap over metal barricades. Helicopters hovered overhead, adding to the aura of watchfulness.

Many in the throng were young -- the kind of crowd John Paul liked to attract. They had mixed views of his legacy.

Silvia Briga, 27, a product manager from Milan who meets weekly with young people to discuss religion, traveled by train Thursday night and reached Rome about 6 a.m. She and her friends clapped each time Ratzinger repeated the words "Follow me," a phrase the Bible says Jesus spoke to Saint Peter.

At the ancient chariot stadium Circus Maximus, where camping pilgrims watched the proceedings on a giant TV screen, Bret Federigan, 28, a high school teacher from McLean, offered a somewhat critical view.

"I went to a Catholic school. I love the pope as a figure and a world leader," he said. "The pope is important for what he's done for the 20th century. But he is too conservative for the good of people -- for example, contraception and AIDS. His position runs against popular sentiment."

Tanja Sladic, 25, arrived from Zagreb on one of 10 buses chartered by a Croatian newspaper. She said she was "only moderately religious" but had been enamored of John Paul ever since she learned that he had forgiven the man who shot him in 1981.

After the Mass, the pope's coffin was lowered by pulley into the ground in a plot inside a small chapel, between the tombs of Queen Christina of Sweden and Queen Carlotta of Cyprus. The cypress coffin had been encased in a zinc one and then placed in another made of walnut.

Vatican officials said Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the church's camerlengo, or temporary caretaker, performed the closed service and concluded it with the same words that opened the funeral: "Lord, grant him eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him."

Special correspondents Sarah Delaney and William Magnuson contributed to this report.

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