.- The body of Pope John Paul II lay in state Sunday at the Apostolic Palace as members of the Roman Curia, religious leaders and civil dignitaries paid their respects and offered prayers for the soul of the late pontiff, who died Saturday as a result of heart and kidney failure.
Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the chamberlain, presided at a celebration before the homage began. This was the first time the public was allowed to see the late Pope — clothed in red vestments and a white miter — since his last public appearance Wednesday.
Vatican Press Office director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced today that the late pontiff’s body would likely be transferred to St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 p.m. Monday for homage by all the faithful. The cardinals are expected to finalize this decision Monday morning.
Navarro-Valls told the press that the Vatican is following the procedures Pope John Paul II had outlined in Universi Dominici gregis regarding the death of a pontiff.
As indicated in the procedures, the chamberlain, the vice-chamberlain, the master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, the cleric prelates of the Apostolic Camera and the Pope's personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, went into the apartment of the pontiff and ascertained his death at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. An official death certificate was then prepared.