John Paul II pondered his fate in 2000
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|LEADERS SET FOR FUNERAL|
Some 200 world dignitaries are expected to attend Pope John Paul II's funeral Friday. They include:President Bush and first lady Laura Bush
Britain's Prince Charles
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Former President Clinton
Former President George H.W. Bush
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Taiwanese President Chen Shui Bian
Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
U.S. congressional delegation of 14 senators and 26 representatives
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- In 2000, Pope John Paul II pondered whether the new millennium would mark the end of his pontificate and considered having his funeral in his Polish homeland, according to his spiritual testament, which the Vatican published Thursday.
Ultimately, he left the decision of his burial in the hands of the College of Cardinals, although the pope was clear that it should take place "in the bare earth," not in a tomb.
Cardinals decided to bury John Paul, whose funeral is set for Friday, in a grotto beneath St. Peter's Basilica. (Funeral rituals)
The pontiff wrote his 15-page testament in Polish, beginning in 1979, the year after he became pope. The pope had said that he reviewed it each Lenten season. (Text of will)
The pope died Saturday, and his body has lain in state since Monday in the basilica, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and dozens of world leaders have come to pay their respects.
The crowds of mourners had dissipated by late Thursday, as the huge bronze doors of the basilica were closed to the public, and the Vatican prepared for the funeral Mass.
Once packed with visitors, St. Peter's Square was nearly empty. At least 2 million people were believed to have paid tribute to the pope since Monday. Some waited in line for up to 12 hours for their chance to see the pope's body for a few seconds.
Police froze the line to enter the basilica about 10 p.m. Wednesday (4 p.m. ET), but reopened it Thursday morning. Barriers blocked the line for good at 7 p.m.
From 100,000 to 115,000 members of the public were expected to attend the funeral in the square, along with hundreds of dignitaries, including U.S. President George W. Bush.
The College of Cardinals has been meeting daily to plan the funeral and a conclave that will choose John Paul II's successor.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, considered one of the candidates to succeed the pope, will celebrate Friday's requiem Mass. The conservative, 77-year-old German was one of the pope's closest advisers.
The conclave is set to begin April 18, and 117 cardinals -- all younger than 80 -- are eligible to attend. (Election rituals)
Notes to be burned
The Vatican released copies of the will in its original Polish and in an Italian translation Thursday.
The pope's first entry, on March 6, 1979, noted that he left no material possessions behind, requesting that his personal secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz, distribute "those items of daily use ... as may appear opportune" and ensure that his personal notes are burned.
But the most extensive entries came in March 2000, when the pontiff, then nearly 80, was suffering from Parkinson's disease and other ailments.
He began an entry recalling the words fellow Polish Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski said to him when he first became pope: "The duty of the new pope will be to introduce the church into the third millennium."
John Paul wrote, "Day by day the 20th century closes behind us and the 21st century opens."
With the old millennium "retreating into the past," he asked if it might not be time to follow the path of the biblical story of Simeon. Simeon was told he would not die before seeing the Messiah, according to the New Testament's Gospel of Luke.
"Lord, now let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled," Simeon said when Mary and Joseph brought their son Jesus into the temple.
The crowds of mourners present security challenges for Italian authorities.
Metal detectors were installed in St. Peter's Square, and security forces were slated to swell to 15,000, including 1,500 military forces, by Friday, an official said. First aid teams were at the ready, and bottles of drinking water were stacked near the square.
Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said all nonessential traffic will be halted in the city from midnight (6 p.m. ET) Thursday until 6 p.m. (noon ET) Friday, and schools and other public buildings will be closed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Airspace within 40 miles of the Vatican will be off-limits to private aircraft. Security cameras already are monitoring key areas, and the Tiber River is under patrol. (Full story)
With the city's hotels full -- and the ancient Circus Maximus an impromptu campground for thousands -- Veltroni issued "an informal invitation" for residents to house pilgrims arriving for the funeral.
CNN's Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.