| President George W. Bush (right) with his father George Bush (centre) and Bill Clinton at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. (AFP)
Vatican City, April 7 (Reuters): Pope John Paul prayed for guidance over how long he should remain Pontiff after seeing in the new millennium, his will revealed today as presidents and patriarchs joined huge crowds in Rome for his funeral.
A sea of red-and-white Polish flags fluttered over an ocean of pilgrims waiting to be the last to see the Pope's body in St Peter's Basilica before his funeral tomorrow in the biggest gathering of the powerful and the humble in modern times.
'He was the greatest Pole there will ever be. He was our father, our friend, our liberator,' said Piotr Buchta, queuing after a 26-hour bus journey from the Pope's birthplace Wadowice. Italy closed the airspace over central Rome and deployed missiles to guard guests during the funeral of the Polish Pope.
John Paul's last will and testament, released to the public today, indicated that in the year 2000 when he turned 80 and suffering from Parkinson's disease he was tormented over how long he would be able to lead the Roman Catholic church.
While the Pope repeatedly said his life was in God's hands, one sentence appeared to be an appeal for guidance and an indication that he might have considered resigning.
'I hope He (God) helps me understand until what moment I have to continue in this service to which he called me on October 16, 1978,' he wrote in 2000, referring to the date when he was elected. He asked God for the strength to carry out his duties as long as he remained Pope.
In the will, written over a period of more than two decades, the Pope indicates that early in his pontificate he considered the possibility of a funeral in Poland ' a wish eagerly shared by millions of his countryman but not to be.
He asked that his personal notes be burned and stated that he was leaving behind no possessions of value.
Nato said it would send an AWACS spy plane to Rome to protect air space during the funeral, which a spokesman called 'possibly an unprecedented gathering of world leaders'.
While the masses lined up, President George W. Bush led the stream of political potentates and royalty due to attend the funeral, visiting the Pope's body late yesterday with his two predecessors ' his father, George Bush, and Bill Clinton.
The funeral starts at 0800 GMT in St Peter's Square.