VATICAN CITY (AP) – For centuries, white smoke billowing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel has been the signal to the world that the cardinals have chosen a new pope. This time – lest anyone be confused over the whether the smoke is really white – bells will ring too.

The smoke comes from the burning of the secret paper ballots, and chemicals are added to heighten the color. Black smoke means no decision has been made after a papal ballot.

The bells are an innovation to honor the late John Paul II’s wishes, the Vatican said Tuesday.

“This time we plan to ring the bells to make the election of the pope clearer,” Archbishop Piero Marini said, recalling wrong calls in past elections. “This way even journalists will know,” an acknowledgment of the Vatican’s interest in using the media to get its message across to a worldwide audience.

Before he died Saturday at age 84, John Paul also made his wish known “to be buried in the ground” and not placed in an above-ground tomb, Marini said. He will buried in the tomb left vacant after the remains of Pope John XXIII were exhumed from the cramped grotto under St. Peter’s Basilica in 2001 and moved to the main floor following his beatification.

John Paul will be laid to rest with a white silk veil on his face, a rosary in his hands and his body clad in liturgical vestments and the white miter. Following the centuries-old custom for burying popes, his body will be placed inside three coffins – wood, zinc and wood – a design meant to slow decomposition, the Vatican confirmed.

A small bag of commemorative medals issued over the course of his 26-year pontificate, as well as a sealed document featuring a brief description in Latin of John Paul’s life, will be buried with him near the tomb that is traditionally believed to be that of the first pope, St. Peter.

John Paul’s personal physician told La Repubblica newspaper that the Polish-born pope “passed away slowly, with pain and suffering which he endured with great human dignity.”

“The Holy Father could not utter a single word before passing away,” said Dr. Renato Buzzonetti. “Just as happened in the last days he could not speak, he was forced to silence.”

Marini brushed off rumors that Polish soil would be placed in the coffin, as many Poles had hoped.

“Everybody has wishes. It is impossible to fulfill them all,” he said.

At least 1 million people have flocked to St. Peter’s Square.

An estimated 600,000 mourners streamed past John Paul’s crimson-robed body in the basilica during the first 24 hours of viewing, city authorities said. Millions are expected in Rome for Friday’s 10 a.m. funeral (4 a.m. EDT), including an estimated 2 million Poles hoping to pay last respects to their native son.

Italy called extra police to Rome and planned to seal off much of the Eternal City to protect a VIP contingent that will include President Bush, former presidents Bush and Clinton as well as the presidents of Syria and Iran.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the cardinals had yet to decide on a date for their conclave to choose a new pope. According to church law, it must start 15 to 20 days after a pope dies.

The next pope is likely to follow John Paul’s conservative bent closely – the late pontiff appointed all but three of the 117 cardinals who can vote in a conclave.

Brazilian Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo told Italian state radio Tuesday that he thought a new pope would be chosen quickly.

“I don’t think it will be a long conclave,” he said, adding that cardinals have had time to reflect beforehand and already should have “clear ideas” when they begin the balloting.

As the cardinals met, buses unloaded huge groups of students, pilgrims and clergy who joined a line stretching for miles along the wide avenue leading to St. Peter’s Square and through the streets of the neighborhood around the Vatican.

Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali, who spent years working at the Vatican, called the outpouring the most dramatic he has witnessed.

“This is the fourth funeral for a pope that I personally participated in. I think this exceeds everything,” he said. “This is the most extraordinary thing that ever happened.”

The doors of the basilica were opened to the public Monday evening. At 3 a.m. Tuesday, the doors were closed for cleaning and the faithful outside started chanting “Open up, open up!” in protest.

Margherita Saccomani, who came to Rome from Tuscany, huddled under a foil blanket with her three children. “I hope it’s not curiosity but deep faith that brings people here,” she said. “I am here because I want my daughters to experience this.”

The cardinals – who are sworn to secrecy on their deliberations – are to review any papers the pope may have left for them.

One may reveal the name of a cardinal John Paul said he named in 2003 but never publicly identified. The name of the cardinal was held “in pectore,” or “in the heart” – a formula that has been used when a pope wants to appoint a cardinal in a country where the church is oppressed.

Navarro-Valls said Tuesday he didn’t know if the pope mentioned the “in pectore” cardinal in any documents given to the cardinals.

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