Chiefs of state and foreign dignitaries from all over the world arrived here yesterday for the funeral of Pope Paul VI as tens of thousands of Catholics crowded into St. Peter's Basilica for a glimpse of the dead pontiff.
Among those who flew here for today's funeral was Rosalynn Carter, the president's wife and leader of the U.S. delegation. Mrs. Carter said Pope Paul's sense of social justice and concern for the poor have "left the world a better place."
"As a man of great spirituality - Jimmy called him a spiritual beacon - he will be missed, not only by American Catholics buy by all Americans and by people the world over," she said.
"His memories will live in our hearts. Let us not then mourn his death so much as celebrate his life - a life dedicated unselfishly to the service of his church and to all men everywhere."
The Vatican, meanwhile, released Pope Paul's last testament, in which he said he wished to die a poor man and be buried simply. He specifically requested that the catafalque used in the funeral be more modest than that of his predecessors and that he be interred beneath St. Peter's with no "special tomb or monument."
The pope also asked that his correspondence, personal memos and other writings be destroyed. He willed all of his remaining personal possessions to the Vatican. Some years ago the pope had disposed of property he inherited from his family.
He also asked the forgiveness of "anyone I may have offended, not served or not loved enough."
Mourners filed past the pope's body at the rate of approximately 200 a minute, some weeping softly and murmuring prayers. Most, however, demonstrated respect silently or showed casual curiosity as Vatican security officers barked, "Move on! Move on."
The body, lying exposed on a slightly titled bier covered in purple velvet, showed increasing signs of decomposition - a greenish gray hue that startled many visitors and caused some to turn away. Two fans circulated air around the catafalque and the four brightly uniformed Swiss guardsmen standing watch.
The problem of how to preserve the body of a deceased pontiff during the time it lies in state has plagued Vatican officials for years, and in the case of Pope Pius XII became such a problem that after several days his blackened body had to be covered with a plastic cloth because of the odor.
Pope Paul is believed to have explicitly asked that his body not be tampered with after his death, although Vatican officials refused to discuss the manner in which the body was treated. For centuries, popes were mummified - a practice long since dropped - and then displayed publicly to assure the public that the pontiff was dead and had not absconded or became the victim of a kidnaping.
The Vatican last night reportedly had decided to place Pope Paul in a sealed coffin for today's funeral mass in front of St. Peter's, the first time a papal funeral service has been held outdoors.
Vatican officials said that the decision to hold an open air funeral was made to accomodate the large crowds of mourners expected. The Vatican is also said to be considering closing the coffin for the public viewings preceeding the funeral. CAPTION:
Picture 1, At mass for Pope at St. Matthew's Cathedral were, from left, Cyrus Vance, President Carter, Mrs. Thomas O'Neill and House Speaker O'Neill., By Charles Del Vecchio - The Washington Post; Picture 2, On her arrival in Rome for Pope Paul's funeral, Rosalyn Carter praised him "a man of great spiritually." AP