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Vatican Closes St. Peter's Basilica for Pope Funeral


The doors of Saint Peter's Basilica have been closed as the Vatican gets ready for the funeral of Pope John Paul the Second. Officials believe as many as two-million people filed past the pope's body since Monday.

The funeral is scheduled to begin at eight hours Universal Time Friday. The Vatican expects a record number of world leaders to attend. Giant television screens will be set up across Rome. Much of the city is closed off to cars and a no-fly zone has been set up.

A veteran Vatican observer James-Charles Noonan tells VOA he expects the funeral to combine Catholic protocol with traditional Polish folk songs and costumes.

Following a mass in Saint Peter's Square, John Paul will be interred in an underground crypt where many previous popes are buried.

The Vatican has also released pope's last will and testament. Written between 1979 and 2000, it asks God for the strength to carry out his duties as long as he remained pope. He left no possessions of value and asked that his personal papers be burned.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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