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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April, 2005, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Pope's funeral shown in churches
People watch the funeral in a Belfast church
People watch the funeral in a Belfast church
Catholic churches across Northern Ireland have shown the Pope's funeral on large screen televisions.

Several hundred people stayed on after Mass at St Malachy's church in Belfast to watch the service as it was broadcast live from Rome.

Commemorative Masses have been held across the province in remembrance of the late 84-year-old pontiff.

Arrangements were also made at an old people's home in Londonderry to enable residents to watch the ceremony.

Pope John Paul II died in his private apartment at the Vatican last Saturday after a long illness.

Irish President Mary McAleese said she was struck by the numbers of Irish people who had made the pilgrimage to Rome for his funeral.

Mrs McAleese was one of more than 200 dignitaries who attended Friday's service.

'Affection'

"I suppose that is a measure of the affection that the Irish people like so many people around the world had for him," she said.

"He made an enormous impact on the Irish people, and I think not just on the Catholic people but on many people, just indeed as we have seen over the last number of weeks the impact that he has had on people right around the world."

Speaking to the BBC in Rome, Londonderry man Danny McBrearty said he had travelled to the Vatican to pay his respects and "say thank you to a wonderful Pope".

"Pope John Paul to me was a man who was very, very humane. He touched a lot of people and he stirred the emotions of a lot of people and he stirred a lot of emotions up in myself," he said.

Danny McBrearty
Danny McBrearty travelled to Rome for the funeral

Father John McManus said the pontiff's funeral had helped to unite the global community.

"I think it is his finest moment because he is drawing people closer to him," he said.

Many Catholic schools across the province closed on the day of John Paul II's funeral as a mark of respect.

The body which oversees Catholic schools said the final decision to close had been left to head teachers and boards of governors.

Jim Clarke from the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools said they had given schools flexibility.

Pope John Paul II made Ireland the third pilgrimage of his 26-year pontificate when he visited for three days in 1979, a year after becoming pontiff.

He made an impassioned plea for peace in Northern Ireland, however, he never visited the province.


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