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Body of Pope John Paul II exhumed ahead of beatification

Pope John Paul's coffin was exhumed on Friday ahead of his beatification as tens of thousands of people began arriving in Rome for one of the biggest events since his funeral in 2005.

The Vatican said the coffin was removed from the crypts below St. Peter's Basilica while top Vatican officials and some of the late pope's closest aides looked on and prayed. Continue reading.

Osservatore Romano via Reuters

The coffin containing the body of Pope John Paul II is exhumed ahead of his beatification in the Vatican April 29.

Osservatore Romano via Reuters

The coffin containing the body of Pope John Paul II is exhumed ahead of his beatification in the Vatican on April 29.

As the Vatican prepares to move the late pontiff one step closer to sainthood this Sunday, Rome has been caught up with beatification fever. Claudio Lavanga reports for NBC News:

Fans of Pope John Paul II are gathering for the beatification of the late pope on Sunday. Souvenirs bearing his image have become an instant hit, but some are concerned about the commercialization.