Thousands of mourners gathered in St Peter's square this morning for a commemorative mass for John Paul II.

Pilgrims and tourists listened then applauded as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state under Pope John Paul II, began by urging all those present to pray for "our beloved John Paul".

Polish flags were waved proudly as the choir rang out across the square.

Along Via della Conciliazione, others watched on giant screens, some holding candles as they prayed.

The pervading feeling was a common sadness yet a celebration of the life of Pope John Paul II.

Police, fire and security officers watched while newspaper vendors waved their special editions featuring headlines such as "Addio Wojtyla" to passers-by; meanwhile the scores of television crews scoured the streets for an original picture.