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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Poles Want Heart of 'Greatest Krakovian'

KRAKOW, Poland -- Officials in Krakow, where Pope John Paul II served as archbishop, are expressing the hope that his heart could be buried in their cathedral alongside Poland's medieval kings and saints.

Most popes in recent centuries have been buried in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. While John Paul's wishes have not yet been made public, many in Poland hope that part of John Paul -- the first non-Italian pope in 455 years -- could be laid to rest in Krakow's Wawel Cathedral.

"We would like the heart of the greatest Krakovian and the greatest Pole to rest at Wawel," Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski was quoted as saying Monday by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. "But the rules are set by the church and we will respect them."

The pope is revered in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Poland as a national as well as spiritual leader for his role in inspiring resistance to the communist regime, which fell peacefully in 1989 to 90. His life has special meaning in Krakow, where he studied for the priesthood and rose within the church from a young priest to bishop, archbishop and cardinal.

Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski will attend the pope's funeral at the Vatican, Kwasniewski's office said Monday. Lech Walesa, the former president and founder of the anti-communist Solidarity movement, will also attend, his son said. The pope is to be interred at St. Peter's Basilica after the Friday morning funeral.