MANILA, Philippines – Church bells tolled around the world Friday, as millions of people gathered in open fields, sports stadiums, town squares and cathedrals to watch the funeral of Pope John Paul II (search). Sirens wailed in his homeland of Poland, where 800,000 people gathered in Krakow.
Thousands of Filipinos watched the funeral Mass from the seaside park where 10 years ago John Paul oversaw an audience of an estimated 4 million people — the largest of his 26-year papacy.
In Paris, an overflow crowd of some 7,000 worshippers filled Notre Dame Cathedral (search). At the Sacre Coeur basilica overlooking Paris from the hill of Montmartre, about 500 worshippers watched two giant screens.
"I'm feeling great sadness," Amaury de Buchet said outside Notre Dame. "A very important person has died. He has done a lot for us. He has spoken a lot, he listened a lot, and I hope his successor will be like him, visiting us and giving us freedom and hope for the future."
Bells rang throughout Austria at the funeral's start, including the country's famed Pummerin bell, rung only on special occasions. A tower at Vienna's famed St. Stephan's cathedral was draped with black cloth, and church buildings posted black banners of mourning.
Live footage of the pope's funeral was beamed across the Middle East by pan-Arab satellite station al-Jazeera, whose Vatican correspondent was among the hundreds of thousands of mourners describing the procession to viewers.
In Poland, an estimated 800,000 people gathered in a vast field in Krakow to watch the funeral. John Paul celebrated several Masses at the Blonie meadows during his visits to the city, where he studied for the priesthood and served as bishop and archbishop.
In Warsaw, sirens wailed for three minutes at the start of the funeral. In the pope's hometown of Wadowice, some 15,000 people packed the square in front of St. Mary's Basilica, where he was baptized.
In Madrid, Spanish and Vatican flags with black ribbons hung from balconies and shops.
Throughout Asia, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs joined Roman Catholics in church services and prayers to honor the pope, who has been highly praised for reaching out to other faiths.
Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales called the gathering of the faithful in Asia's most populous Roman Catholic nation a "celebration of life" for John Paul, who endeared himself to Filipinos with two well-received visits, along with prayers in troubled times. The pope drew huge emotional crowds in 1981 as well as 1995.
"He said goodbye, but in the hearts of Filipinos, he still lives on," said Bing Saracarpio, who was selling flags and T-shirts with the pope's image.
In Tokyo, hundreds of government officials and dignitaries were among an estimated 1,500 Japanese who packed a memorial Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, spilling outside under a hot sun.
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (search), urged people to carry on John Paul II's legacy of peace.
"Firstly, we lost a great human being, a leader of a great religion but also one very good human being," the Dalai Lama said during a trip to Japan. "Now it is important that we must carry all his messages and guidance with us. We must make every effort to fulfill his wishes."
In overwhelmingly Buddhist Sri Lanka, where the pope visited in 1995, the top private TV station ART interrupted regular programming to broadcast the funeral live after receiving hundreds of requests.
In Australia, some 14,000 people filled a cricket ground in Adelaide for a memorial service for the pontiff — who last year criticized Australia for its secular trends and warned that attending Mass on Sunday should not become subordinate to a "secular concept of `weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport."
In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, more than 4,000 people, including representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities, attended a memorial Mass late Thursday at St. John's Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur.
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, around 150 Catholics gathered to watch the service at a Jakarta cathedral. Two large posters of the pope were fixed to the door, one reading: "Connect us to your heaven so their will be peace in the world."
Back in Europe, in Slovakia, several thousand gathered for an open-air Mass near Bratislava in the spot where the pope had celebrated a Mass for 200,000 faithful during his last trip here in 2003.
"I'm very sad that the Holy Father is no longer among us," Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said after the Mass. "I am well aware of what he has meant for Slovaks, for myself and my nearest ones."