The Archbishop of Birmingham yesterday spoke of the rich legacy that Pope John Paul II gave to the Catholic Church.

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols was speaking to a packed congregation at St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham at a special service in remembrance of the pontiff.

He told worshippers that the Pope had "run his race" as he had completed his duty and installed faith in his followers.

The Archbishop also spoke of the future direction of the Church, but said it was the Pope's leadership that ensured followers of the Catholic religion would be rewarded and enriched by their faith.

During his homily, Archbishop Nichols said: "In the next few days, there will be much speculation about the future of the Church, the election of the new Pope and the direction the Church must take.

"Some will speak of conservatives and liberals, progressives and modernisers, but these are not the important things.

"Faithfulness is the one guiding quality that is of greatest importance in the Church.

"This is the quality we seek. That is what we offer to each other, the work of being faithful to what we have received from the Lord, no matter our circumstances.

"That is what Pope John Paul II gave us: faithfulness to Christ, to the Word of God, to the teachings of the Church, to his own calling.

"He was so attractive in offering to others that same invitation. Be faithful, do not be afraid, be true to the Lord and then you will have life in its fullness.

"In the last few days, many people will have been touched by what they have seen and heard on the radio and TV.

"They will have sensed again the presence of God and it is the task of each member of the Church to encourage them to follow that instinct.

"Many people in our society today are not as far from God as they think. In the days to come, please offer to others encouragement in faith.

"When they build on that instinct for God then they will come to a way of life that is enriched and rewarding."

"Today we take great courage from Pope John Paul II, a man of such great faith. He has now completed the task he was given, he has run his race.

"We thank God for all that he gave us in the wonderful ministry of John Paul, our Universal Pastor. May he rest in peace."

Many people visited St Chad's throughout the day to say prayers and reflect on the death of the Pontiff.

Among them were a group of Polish men, who were working at a printers in Coleshill. Rafal Paszyck, aged 26, said the Pope had an enormous impact on his life and that of every Pole.

Mr Paszyck, who is from Warsaw, said: "We have visited the church because we are Catholic and we wanted to pay our respects to our father, the Pope.

"He is a very influential figure for every Polish national and it has been a very sad, but momentous few days."

Hieronim Kurpiewski, aged 21, who is also from Warsaw, said: "My country is very sad with the news of the Pope's death.

"We wanted to come to the church to express our respect for the Pope, who means so much to so many people all across the world."

Peter Martin, who was born in Ireland but now lives in Birmingham, said he wanted to say a prayer for the Pope at his local Catholic Cathedral.

"His death was expected, but it still makes you think a lot about what he achieved and what he did for people of all religious denominations," said the 44-year-old.

"My mother and father have seen him in Ireland, but I have never had the honour of seeing who is probably the most famous man in the world."

Richard Joy made his way to the church on his own to find out when the next mass was being held.

He said: "I think he was one of the most wonderful people who ever lived. What he did in his life was extraordinary.

"This is not my normal church as I live on the other side of the city. But It is important for me to reflect on the Pope's death at a mass in the Cathedral."

A woman with much to reflect on was 72-year-old Annie Douglas, who had an audience with the Pope in


Ms Douglas, who is from Cannock, visited the Vatican on a pilgrimage and was called out by officials to meet the

Pontiff. She was at St Chad's yesterday with her daughter, Sharon Douglas, and granddaughter Natalie Pettit, who are both from Kingstanding, Birmingham.

"There is no way I can describe that experience," said Ms Douglas. "It changed my life, and it is something that I can never forgot. I held his hand and kissed him ring.

"The Pope has had a massive influence on all the people of the world, especially the young.

"We wanted to pay our respects to him."