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Vatican announces burial plans
VATICAN CITY -- As Roman Catholic cardinals planned the funeral for Pope John Paul II, an unceasing line of mourners filed past his body Tuesday as it lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims, most from Italy, stood in line for as long as eight hours. But Rome is filling quickly with mourners from beyond Italy, said the city's deputy mayor, Luca Odevaine.
Officials have converted the site of the ancient Roman Circus Maximus into a free campground to house visitors, Odevaine said.
Vatican officials have said they plan to bury the pope in the grotto beneath St. Peter's Basilica in the former grave of Pope John XXIII.
Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the pope would be buried there "unless he left other instructions in the will. ... But we don't know because we haven't read the will yet."
In 2001, authorities exhumed John XXIII's body and entombed it on the basilica's main floor. His papacy was from 1958 until his death in 1963.
Navarro-Valls has said previously that the pope's only burial request was placement "in the ground."
The cardinals met Tuesday morning for their third congregation since John Paul II's death, but Navarro-Valls said they had not decided yet when the conclave to select the next pope would begin.
By Vatican law, it must begin no earlier than 15 days and no later than 20 days after the pope's death on Saturday.
Archbishop Pietro Marini noted some changes in apostolic law concerning the conclave, most notably that the voting cardinals -- all those under 80 -- won't be locked in the Sistine Chapel until they've made a decision as they have in the past.
"But they cannot have contact with other people," he said. "They cannot watch television or listen to radio."
Marini said that the pontiff's body would be placed in a wooden coffin -- the first of three that would entomb him -- which would be closed before it is carried out into St. Peter's Square for Friday's funeral.
Navarro-Valls said the body had been "prepared for burial" but was not embalmed.
Mourners line up for hours
An estimated 70,000 people were waiting in the square outside St. Peter's when the doors opened for public viewing about 8 p.m. Monday (2 p.m. ET). For the next seven hours, a steady flow of people filed past the body.
When the basilica closed at 3 a.m. Tuesday (9 p.m. ET) for scheduled cleaning, those in line sat down and waited for it to reopen. Medics handed out blankets and water, and the basilica reopened at 4:40 a.m., a few minutes ahead of the scheduled time of 5 a.m. It will remain open for 22 hours a day until the pope's funeral.
Between 15,000 and 18,000 people an hour are filing past the pope's body, Reuters quoted the Vatican as saying.
Italian authorities said they expect some 2 million people to file through the Vatican and the surrounding streets of Rome in the coming days.
The body will lie in state until a funeral at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) Friday.
Some 200 world leaders are expected to attend the service.
Odevaine said the influx of international leaders poses "a very, very big problem" for security and transportation.
"We hope the delegation will come and go on the same day because we cannot handle having people going around the town with escorts and everything," he said.
The 84-year-old pontiff died Saturday from septic shock and cardiocirculatory collapse, the Vatican said. He suffered from a number of chronic illnesses, including Parkinson's disease.
The pope was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920 in Poland. He became pope in October 1978, the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years