Pope Francis visits tomb of former pope John Paul II

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Tuesday visited the tomb of John Paul II at St Peter's Basilica, exactly eight years after the former pope's death, the Vatican said.

"(...) The pope kneeled for a long time praying in front of Blessed John Paul II in the Chapel of St. Sebastian," it said in a statement, adding he also made brief stops in front of the tombs of John XXII and St. Pius X.

Hugely popular John Paul II led the Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005 and was succeeded by Benedict XVI, who stunned the world in February with his decision to resign aged 85.

Pope Francis was then elected on March 13. "Tonight's visit in the Basilica expresses the profound spiritual continuity" of the papal ministry, the Vatican said.

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