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Learning English - Words in the News
04 April, 2005 - Published 14:50 GMT
Pope John Paul II lying in state in the Vatican
Pope John Paul II lying in state

The Pope continues to lie in state in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. His body will then be transferred to St. Peter's Basilica where the public will be able to pay their last respects for at least three days and three nights until his funeral. This report from David Willey:

Listen to the story

Pope John Paul lies propped up slightly on a silk-covered dais in one of the most beautiful-frescoed audience halls in the Apostolic Palace, one floor down from his private apartment. Two Swiss guards in full dress uniform wearing red-plumed Renaissance-style helmets flank the Pope's body. He is dressed in his papal vestments, a red cape around his shoulders, a white bishop's mitre on his head, his hands clasped around a rosary and his silver papal crucifix tucked under one arm. Correspondents accredited to the Vatican were taken to the VIP entrance to the Apostolic Palace. We walked up two flights of marble stairs together with a crowd of Vatican employees and groups of bishops, priests and Catholics with special contacts inside the Vatican. We queued for an hour and as we drew near to the lying in state, some sang hymns, others recited the rosary prayer. As we crossed the polished-marble floor of the hall, bishops and priests prayed aloud as they knelt beside the Pope. From a wall painting, one of the Pope's predecessors, Pope Clement the Eighth, who built this part of the palace, looked benignly down upon us. We were only allowed to pause for a moment in recollection in front of the dead Pope before leaving. There was sufficient time, however, to see how, the Pope, whom I have seen so many times in life, blessing enormous crowds in every continent, is now himself being ceaselessly blessed by people from every walk of life. The crowd of Vatican insiders filling the Apostolic Palace to say farewell to their Pope gave me a foretaste of the vast throng of ordinary pilgrims now waiting here in Rome for their chance to see him lying in state.

David Willey, Rome

Listen to the words

pay their last respects
to visit the body of a dead person to show respect or regard for them

propped up
in a slightly seated position, leaning against something

full dress uniform
very formal military uniform, only used for ceremonial occasions

papal vestments
religious clothing only worn by the pope

flights of marble stairs
staircases made of marble

lying in state
the event where a dead person's body is placed in public to be honoured. Can also be used as a verb - to lie in state

people who were pope before him

gently, kindly

people who work within something, in this case the Vatican

an early idea of something which is going to happen

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