.- Among the millions waiting to see the body of John Paul II lying in state at St. Peter’s Basilica yesterday were three U.S. presidents. The five-member delegation from the United States included current president George W. Bush, his father George Bush Sr., and former President Bill Clinton. First Lady, Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accompanied them.
Upon the delegation’s arrival in Rome, they were taken directly to St. Peter’s Basilica, where they venerated the body of the pope for about five minutes. All three kneeled before the Holy Father’s body.
The group will join a massive assembly of world leaders for John Paul’s funeral Friday. President Bush will be the first-ever sitting American president to attend the funeral of a pope.
Some 200 heads of state are said to be descending on Rome for the funeral—a testimony, many say, to the far-reaching influence of the Holy Father, who died Saturday.
John Paul is thought to have been seen in person by more people than any other human being in history.