National Catholic Reporter:

What did they come to see?
By Rita Larivee,  SSA

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These photographs, taken over the course of one day, attempt to capture the scene at Vatican City as Catholics throughout the world discern the meaning of these events. Between now and the election of the next pope, National Catholic Reporter will provide additional photographs as they become available.
These are images of the piazza from the entrance of Saint Peter's Basilica as the line entered its doorway. The stage had been set for the following morning's funeral.
Before getting to the entrance, the crowd had to climb the stairs and wait until the signal was given that would allow everyone to proceed to final moment of a long wait.
Once inside the Basilica, the line moved quietly toward the front.  People were not stopped from taking photographs or great respect was given to everyone who had journeyed to this moment. The crowd monitored its own way for being reverential.  No one was told to be quiet or to stop using a flash.  In many ways, it was as if one was attending the wake service of a family member or a dear friend.
As edge of the crowd came to the front, each person was allowed to see the pope from the front  row.  The attendants were very gracious and respectful of those who had come to pay their last respects.  Time was given to those who needed it with only modest suggestions for moving along so others could come.
Following the viewing of the John Paul II's body, visitors were allowed to remain within the Basicila for as long as they wished.  Many took the opportunity for prayer, while others sat in circles paying homage to the moment.
At the exit of the Basilica, as one left, two of the Swiss guards stood, giving closure to the long process of waiting.
And, finally, as the meaning of these days continues to unfold, the Tiber River stands as a reminder that regardless of the challenges facing the church and the world, the waters, both literally and metaphorically will continue to flow.
Copyrighted 2005 The National Catholic Reporter Publ. Co.
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