Vatican City, Apr 9, 2005 / 22:00 pm
Sincere gratitude was expressed by the Vatican to the Italian government and to the city of Rome for the “dedication and efficiency” with which they welcomed the more than two million pilgrims who came to the Italian capitol to bid farewell to Pope John Paul II.
Streams of pilgrims from around the world poured into Rome in the hours and days following the Pope’s death, April 2, in order to pay their last respects and attend the funeral at St. Peter’s Square. The April 8 funeral “was an exceptional event, and run in a truly exception manner,” said Press Office director Joaquin Navarro-Valls in a statement to journalists.
Pope John Paul II’s funeral was the most attended and watched event in history. Despite fears of terrorism, the funeral took place without incident. There were also no reports of crime or petty theft.
The Vatican also thanked Italian law enforcement officers and all of the people, including volunteers, who showed “tireless dedication” in organizing the funeral “that was both without precedent and unpredictable in all of its dimensions,” said Navarro-Valls. "Special applause goes to all the citizens of Rome for their collaboration and patience in accepting the inevitable discomfort of these days,” reads the statement. “Rome has once again given proof of its millennia-old civility and its attachment to the deceased Pontiff."