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WORLD

Pilgrims bid 'Papa' farewell


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Pilgrims shout 'Santo' in St. Peter's Square

Mourners say goodbye to Pope John Paul II.

World leaders arrive at St. Peter's Square for the pope's funeral

Prayers, scripture readings and songs set the tone
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VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- The millions of people who flocked to Rome for Pope John Paul II's funeral endured the confusion of a suddenly overcrowded city, hours with barely a chance to sit down, and perhaps the longest lines they'll ever stand in.

But for the opportunity to pay last respects to the pontiff, pilgrims -- young and old and from across the world -- said the exhausting trip was more than worth it.

"He's the heart of the world," said a pilgrim from India named Suni, who was among more than 100,000 at St. Peter's Square for Friday's funeral Mass.

Margarita Ignacio of Brazil said the service felt like "a tsunami of peace."

"To see so many people, all united with calm and charisma, it was very emotional. It's a sign he was a saint," she said.

Many at the funeral cheered "Santo, Santo" -- saying the Roman Catholic Church should canonize John Paul II.

"He's everything for me, he's my father, like for everybody here," said a Polish woman named Agata. "I must be here, for him."

Hundreds of thousands traveled from Poland, the pope's homeland. And Poles traveled from throughout the world, including John and Eileen Duda from the United States.

"This was a very spiritual experience," said Eileen Duda, who attended Karol Wojtyla's inauguration as Pope John Paul II in 1978. "This time we cry, and we tell him 'thank you' for us."

John Duda said there was "a feeling of sadness because we lost a very good pope, a very good friend," and also of "joy because he's in a much better place now. No more suffering for him."

He said the funeral was a "roller coaster ride of emotion."

Some pilgrims questioned whether the grandiose service was true to the character of John Paul II. "It was beautiful but ... it was a very strict ceremony, a very ecclesiastical ceremony, different from the kind he would have proposed," said one.

But many described it as a powerful tribute to a man who helped change the world.

Even non-Catholics found the funeral Mass meaningful. "You have that feeling that's there and goes all the way through you, so you are a participant in a holy experience," said Turney Berry, a Methodist from Kentucky.

"It makes you realize when you see people from all around the world -- the Poles here, people from Africa, from Israel who are here -- few really realize that it's one world, and that we have a responsibility to share the space together around the world."

Her traveling companion, Kendra Foster, praised the pope's "ecumenical and inter-religious work" over the years and said she wanted to pay respects "to a great man and a great figure in the world."

Father Thomas, an Indian priest studying in Rome, said, "I am very happy. When he went through the door, the last time they showed him, it was very heartfelt for me. I pray to him to bring everybody to heaven."


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