The Italian Almanac

a last image of John Paul II

Italian News - April 9

The body of Pope John Paul II has lain in state this week in St. Peter's Basilica. But it has hardly been peaceful with 18,000 people shuffling by each hour - especially when the majority were Italians wielding cellphone cameras.

The funeral rites for popes stipulated by John Paul in 1996 specifically prohibited photographing the pope on "his sickbed or after death," except for specially accredited photographers. Signs in St. Peter's Basilica also prohibit photography. But this week, the heavy air around the pope's bier has not been filled with prayer so much as with tiny popping flashes and clicking shutters.

"Of course everyone is taking pictures," said Antonio Parente, 19 , who had managed to take eight pictures in the 30 seconds it took to walk by the body. "They want to remember this moment."

No efforts have been made to stop the photographers.