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Sunday, 3 June, 2001, 05:35 GMT 06:35 UK
Public viewing for former Pontiff

The casket containing the embalmed body of the former Head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John the twenty third, is being put on display in Saint Peter's basilica in Rome later today Sunday.

The transfer is being marked by a special mass celebrated by the current pope, John Paul II.

The casket had previously been kept in the basilica's crypt, and correspondents say the special attention being shown to the former pontiff is an indication of the Vatican's enthusiasm for his eventual sainthood. Vatican officials say they expect thousands of pilgrims to view the remarkably well-preserved body of one of the 20th century's most beloved Popes.

His five-year pontificate brought widespread changes to the Catholic church, and he is widely respected for his personal modesty, his good humour and his efforts to make the church more open to other faiths.

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