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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
One million queue to mourn Pope
Queue of people waiting to view the Pope's body
The streets around St Peter's Square are filled with pilgrims
The Catholic Church's cardinals are meeting at the Vatican to finalise arrangements for the funeral of Pope John Paul II later this week.

The cardinals have also decided that the closed-door process of electing the next pope will begin on 18 April.

The number of mourners queuing in St Peter's Square in Rome to view the Pope's body has now reached a million.

Hundreds of thousands more pilgrims are reported to be on their way.

The tightly packed lines of people queuing to see the Pope's body lying in state in St Peter's Basilica stretch back nearly 2km (1.2 miles).

FUNERAL GUESTS
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
US President George W Bush
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Palestinian leader Ahmed Qurei
French President Jacques Chirac
DR Congo President Joseph Kabila
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

Each hour, 18,000 people are filing past the pontiff lying in state in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Italian phone companies have been sending text messages warning mourners that they can expect a wait of up to 12 hours.

One man from Naples said he had been waiting in the queue with his wife for seven hours.

"These sacrifices that we are making now are nothing compared to what he deserves," Gino d'Anna told Reuters news agency.

Some two million Poles are reported to be on their way to say goodbye to their countryman at his funeral on Friday.

Extra planes, buses and trains have been laid on after Rome-bound flights on Polish airlines were sold out within hours of the funeral date being announced.

"This event, it is not going to happen again," one woman told the BBC. "I have to go because I love the Pope and I want to spend this time with him there in Rome."

Pilgrims from Spain have also been crowding the roads to Italy.

'Worthwhile sacrifice'

In Rome itself, the roads and underground railway are already congested with mourners.

Hotels within a 200km (124 mile) radius are reported to be full, and the authorities are arranging makeshift dormitories and campsites.

The Pope lies in state
More than a million people have filed past the Pope lying in state

Airspace over Rome will be closed on Thursday and Friday, as tight security is put in force for the many foreign leaders arriving for the Pope's funeral.

Some 200 foreign dignitaries will attend, including US President George W Bush, his predecessor Bill Clinton, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The cardinals gathering in Rome set Monday 18 April for the grand gathering of cardinals, known as a conclave, that meets to pick a new Pope.

They also read a testament left behind by the Pope, which they plan to publish on Thursday.





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See the scene from St Peter's Basilica



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