Mourners gathered at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral on Tuesday for the first of three days of visitation for the late Cardinal Francis George.

People lined up in front of the church hours before visitation started at 2 p.m. It followed the rite of reception, which officially welcomed the cardinal's body back to the cathedral.

Holy Name rector Monsignor Dan Mayall gave the rite's homily, saying George's journey is beginning, not ending.

"We're not here to canonize the cardinal and we certainly are not here to condemn him, but we are here to commend him to the Lord, the Lord who said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life,'" Mayall said.

After the rite was completed, the casket was opened up and mourners began paying their respects. A prayer vigil reserved for members of the clergy was also to take place Tuesday.

A second day of visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, with a short visitation period early Thursday to be followed by a funeral Mass.

George, who was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1997, died Friday at age 78 after a battle with cancer.

The native Chicagoan retired in the fall of 2014, a few months before announcing his treatment for kidney cancer had failed. George was replaced by Archbishop Blase Cupich.