Alone with her thoughts, 72-year-old Annie Douglas from Cannock joins millions across the world in prayer for Pope John Paul II.

Annie, who was visiting Birmingham's Roman Catholic St Chad's Cathedral yesterday, met the Pope four years ago when she was on a pilgrimage to Rome.

"He was such a great man who suffered so much for us," said Annie. "I think it will be a joy for him to finally meet his maker."

The 84-year-old Pope finally succumbed to his long struggle against illness on Saturday. He died in his Vatican rooms at 8.37pm.

The Midlands yesterday remembered the longserving Pontiff, with Birmingham's Catholic Archbishop, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, leading the tributes. Religious leaders of all denominations also joined worshippers from the Catholic faith in expressing their respect to the Pontiff.

In Rome yesterday, Cardinals in St Peter's Square led 70,000 in prayers for him on his "last journey".

It had been expected that Tony Blair would call the General Election today but it has been delayed out of respect for the Pope.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would not be going to Buckingham Palace today to seek a dissolution of Parliament.

"The Prime Minister will be attending vespers at Westminster Cathedral," Downing Street said.

The Pope's funeral is to be held between Wednesday and Friday.


In Monday's Birmingham Post

A special 12 page supplement commemorating the life and times of Pope John Paul II, including a special message from the Archbishop of Birmingham, memories of his visit to Coventry and reaction from the city's Catholic community.