Millions more around the world watched on television.
CBS News Correspondent John Roberts reports John Paul ended his life the way he lived it: as a pope of the people. Before the grandeur of St. Peter's Square, the pope's body lay in a simple wooden box, the pages of his beloved scriptures fluttering in the breeze.
It was his connection to the ordinary and extraordinary that marked this papacy as one for the ages. Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers joined 300,000 faithful crowded into St Peter's Square and beyond.
President Bush led the American delegation, bringing along his father and Bill Clinton. A "high point of his presidency," Mr. Bush said about the chance to witness firsthand the outpouring of respect and devotion.
In his homily, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described the pope as "a priest to the very end" and traced the extraordinary arc of the pope's life from his days as a factory worker in Poland to leader of the world's more than 1 billion Catholics.
And to waves of applause that surged through the square and down the avenue that fronts it, Ratzinger proclaimed: "We can be sure our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house; that he sees us and blesses us."
Many of the people who jammed the square and the public places set up for the overflow crowd have only ever known one pope. His power as a father figure and spiritual leader was apparent in the prayers they said and the tears they shed.
The flag of Poland waved proudly by hundreds of thousands of Poles who came for the funeral; a moving display of the gratitude for the life of Poland's native son. Some carried banners with the logo of "Solidarity," the Polish labor movement the pope supported in his confrontations with communism.
And Italians, skeptical at first about the first non-native pope in nearly 500 years, showed how close they'd grown to their adopted father, chanting "Santo", "Santo" – make him a saint now.
"I'm here not only to pray for him, but also to pray to him, because I believe he's a saint," said Therese Ivers, 24, of Ventura, Calif., holding high an American flag in the middle of the crowd on the broad Via della Conciliazione, which stretches from St. Peter's Square to the Tiber River.
The dignitaries from 138 countries reflected the extraordinary mix of faiths and cultures that John Paul courted during his 26-year papacy: Orthodox bishops in long black robes, Jews in yarmulkes, Arabs in checkered head scarves, Central Asians in lambskin caps and Western political leaders in dark suits.
In a gesture the pope would certainly have applauded, Israeli President Moshe Katsav said he shook hands and chatted briefly with the leaders of his country's archenemies, Syria and Iran.
The 2½-hour Mass began with the Vatican's Sistine Choir singing the Gregorian chant, "Grant Him Eternal Rest, O Lord."
The Mass ended with cardinals, dignitaries and pilgrims standing and singing: "May the angels accompany you into heaven, may the martyrs welcome you when you arrive, and lead you to Holy Jerusalem."
Twelve white-gloved pallbearers carried the coffin back into St. Peter's Basilica, where it was nested inside a second casket of zinc and a third of walnut.
In a spontaneous gesture of respect, cardinals standing along the aisles removed their "zucchettos," or skull caps as the coffin went by, according to Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. "It was the last tribute to the Holy Father," he said.
In a grotto beneath the basilica, the casket was lowered into the ground in a plot inside a small chapel, between the tombs of two women: Queen Christina of Sweden and Queen Carlotta of Cyprus, said a senior Vatican official who attended the ceremony.
"Lord, grant him eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him," said Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, who performed the private service.