Overwhelmed by the flood of mourners from across the world, authorities in Rome are asking pilgrims to stagger their arrivals. People are being bussed in, flown in and even coming by boat as several countries have laid on extra services to cope with the demand.
Some two million people are expected in Rome for Friday’s funeral but some estimates put the figure at around twice as much.
“We’re happy,” said one woman waiting at the Vatican. “We won’t return until we’ve seen him,” added her friend.
The heat, the long queues and the emotion has taken its toll though.
Ambulances are parked near St Peter’s Sqaure and bottles of water are being given out to the crowds.
With the list of VIPs attending the funeral growing every minute, hotel space is at a premium.
Such is the demand for accommodation, open spaces, playing fields and even well-known landmarks including the Circus Maximus are being transformed into temporary tented cities.