RAY SUAREZ: The open-air funeral in St. Peter's Square was one of the largest religious gatherings in modern times. Just after at 10:00 this morning in Rome, the Sistine Chapel choir sang the Gregorian chant "Grant Him Eternal Rest, o Lord."
Twelve pallbearers, laypeople who are members of old Roman families, emerged from the Basilica's red curtains carrying the bishop of Rome's casket.
The cypress wood coffin was emblazoned with a cross and the letter "m," chosen by John Paul for Jesus' mother, Mary. He also asked that the coffin be set on the ground. A gospel was placed on top.
The public Mass was preceded by a private ceremony inside the Basilica. There a white silk veil was placed over the pope's face and the casket was sealed. German Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, presided over the two and a half hour traditional Mass, the same Mass said at any Catholic's funeral.
CARDINAL JOSEF RATZINGER (Translated): Oh, God, father, and pastor of humanity, look at Your family gathered here in prayer and grant your servant and our pope, John Paul II, who in the love of Christ led your church, to share with the flock entrusted to him the reward promised to the faithful ministers of the gospel.
RAY SUAREZ: One hundred and sixty-four of the Roman Catholic Church's 183 cardinals and patriarchs of the Eastern Rite Churches donned red vestments for the Mass.
Also in attendance, leaders of the world's major religions, as well as presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens, dignitaries and common people from around the world. It was the first time an American president had attended a papal funeral.
President Bush was there, as was his father and former President Clinton. The first reading was from the Acts of the Apostles, and was in Spanish. Known as Peter's speech, it quotes Saint Peter saying "God shows no partiality among nations."
WOMAN ( Translated): In those days, Peter addressed the truth. I have now come to realize, he said, God does not have favorites but anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.
It is true that God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ is Lord of all men.
RAY SUAREZ: The Latin chant of a familiar psalm followed.
SINGING ( Translated ): The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
RAY SUAREZ: An American seminarian from Alabama read the only part of the Mass in English.
JOHN McDONALD: As you well know, we have our citizenship in heaven. It is from there that we eagerly await the coming of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body by his power to subject everything to himself. For these reasons, my brothers, you whom I so love and long for, you are who are my joy and my crown continue my dear ones to stand firm in the Lord.
RAY SUAREZ: The gospel chosen for this Mass was a passage from John. In it, Jesus asks his disciple Peter if he loves him and will follow him. In his homily, Cardinal Ratzinger reflected on the scripture and John Paul's life.
CARDINAL JOSEF RATZINGER: (Translated): "Follow me": Karol Wojtyla accepted the appointment, for he heard in the church's call the voice of Christ.
And then he realized how true are the Lord's words: "For those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it." Our pope, and we will know this, never wanted to make his own life secure, to keep it for himself. He wanted to give of himself unreservedly to the very last moment, for Christ, and thus also for us.
None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the apostolic palace and one last time gave his blessing, urbi et orbi.
We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the mother of God, your mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
RAY SUAREZ: The homily, indeed, the entire Mass, was interrupted many times by applause. Not often heard in American churches, applause commonly punctuates the ceremonies in St. Peter's Square.
Prayers were offered in many languages, reflecting both the global reach of John Paul, the most-traveled pope in history, and the diversity of his Church.
RAY SUAREZ: Before offering communion, the cardinal asked the congregation to exchange a sign of peace, usually a handshake. It's an ancient ritual, once abandoned by the Church and then brought back as part of the reforms of Vatican II.
During communion, more than 300 priests fanned out to offer the bread to the masses in the square. As the mass closed, the crowd erupted in applause again for nearly five minutes.
They chanted "santo," Italian for "saint," and held up signs reading "Santo Subito," Italian for "saint immediately," calling for the canonization of John Paul.
During his reign, this pope named 483 saints, more than any other pope in history. Cardinal Ratzinger sprayed the coffin with holy water and incense. Then, the pallbearers lifted John Paul one last time for the crowd to see.
Then, the body of John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in nearly 500 years, was brought back inside St. Peter's Basilica for a private burial. This afternoon, the Vatican released photographs of that ceremony, showing the cypress coffin placed inside a second casket of zinc, which was soldered shut, and then within a third made of walnut.
That was then lowered into the earth at 2:20 local time. Vatican rules call for nine days of mourning. Then the College of Cardinals will meet in secret to elect a new pope.