''He was one of us. I've been coming to see him since 1986. I was 18 then. I was and am a boy scout. There was a scout-rally in the Abruzzo, a mountainous region to the east of Rome. There were 13,000 of us. He came by helicopter. We called him 'John Paul, John Paul'. Then we got cold feet and asked him if it was okay to call him that. He said: 'Go ahead! I came by chopper you had to walk. You've earned it to call me by my right name.''' Mario Fiorentina, now living in Guidonia near Rome.

''He was always for us young people. He was always by our side. He's done so much for us. He once said: 'By thinking young, you become young!' Beautiful!'' Daniele Perla, now 40.

A young woman holding a candle and following mass in the square from two giant screens. Behind her, a battery of television telescope lenses were pointed to the still-lit windows of the Pope's apartment on the third floor. ''He was a great man. A father to us all. He was so human. What did I think of him being Polish. It was wonderful having a foreigner as pope. It was so different, a great experience. Excuse me, I want to follow the mass'' Simona Calicchia.

In a bus going from St Peter's to Rome's central station. ''We came from Milan especially to be here. We had no idea it would all be over when we got here. He died while we were in the train. We're going back tomorrow morning. What a day!

''He was very human. He tried to unite different races and churches. He didn't succeed but he tried a lot. But he tried to knock down the Berlin Wall and he did it. He took up a lot of political space in the world.'' Franco and Stefania Di Tommaso.

''They fired on him in St Peter's Square. He had tumours and falls. Then he had to face such a long agony. It's better that what happened did happen in the end. They say he wanted to be buried in the castle at Krakow. But he was no longer Polish. He belonged to Italy, to the world. He was such a human person. Always ready to help his neighbour. He was a parish priest. He was a great sportsman too. He went skiing and swimming. He was a sturdy, simply mountain man. If he hadn't been, he would never have been able to put up with what he did.'' Lorenzo Nonzetta, a Roman originally from the hilly Abruzzo region. Outside the big church of S. Maria Maggiore, reputed to be the biggest church in the world devoted to the Virgin Mary. As a fervent devotee of Mary, the pope regularly paid homage to her in the basilica.