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Last Updated: Thursday April 07 2005 20:10 GMT

What happens at the Pope's funeral?

Preparations for the Pope's funeral in Rome
Leaders from around the world are travelling to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

On Thursday night he will be dressed in special clothes for the funeral and then placed inside the first of three coffins, this one made of cypress wood.

Certain objects also go into the coffin with him, like coins and maybe even some soil from Poland where he was born.

Holy water

On Friday that coffin will be placed on the steps of the basilica in St Peter's Square in Rome for the funeral.

Satellite trucks in Rome
Lots of media are in Rome to cover the story
First there is a special private ceremony for important members of the Catholic church, before the larger ceremony that other political and religious figures will be at.

The funeral mass is expected to last around two and half hours, and will be celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, deacon of the College of Cardinals.

There are lots of prayers and hymns, and then some people go towards the coffin and pray for the soul of the Pope and spray his body with holy water and incense.

The funeral Mass ends with all standing and together singing: "May the angels accompany you into heaven, may the martyrs welcome you when you arrive, and lead you to Holy Jerusalem."

Then the coffin is taken under the Vatican and placed in a second coffin - this one made of zinc, and engraved with his name and the dates he started and ended being the Pope.

After that the Pope's body and the two coffins will be placed inside an oak box.

This will then be placed under a marble slab, where John Paul II will rest alongside the Pope before him, John Paul I, and popes Benedict XV, Innocent IX, Julius III and Paul VI.

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