Pope John Paul II, the world-traveling, working-class pontiff who stood up to the Soviet bloc and won the allegiance of tens of millions, died Saturday in Vatican City. He was 84. "We all feel like orphans this evening," Undersecretary of State Archbishop Leonardo Sandri told the crowd of 70,000 that gathered in St. Peter's Square below the pope's apartment windows. The assembled flock fell into a stunned silence before some people broke out in applause -- an Italian tradition in which mourners often clap for important figures.
The passing ended a two-month series of medical emergencies that included breathing crises and swallowing problems, requiring the insertion of tubes for breathing and nutrition.
The former stonecutter and chemical plant worker drew loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church through sheer ebullience as well as intellectual argument. Through frequent pastoral tours of more than 120 countries -- and preaching and praying in many tongues -- John Paul II galvanized support through enormous, well-choreographed rallies.
He worshiped with young people in Denver and celebrated a massive Mass in Miami. He blessed crowds in Cuba from his glass-enclosed "popemobile." He pleaded for peace at the United Nations and prayed in Jerusalem.
He reached out to Jews, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, Muslims and Buddhists.
He even spoke and sang to music on a CD that was an instant best seller in several countries.
But his strong stances on homosexuality, abortion and academic freedom, along with the church's initial reluctance to deal with the problem of sex abuse by priests, made his 261/2-year reign controversial as well.
He was also the target of two assassination attempts -- one of them hospitalized him for more than two months -- yet he publicly forgave the man who shot him.
In Washington, President Bush mourned the loss of "a champion of human freedom" and said the pontiff "launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history."
Among John Paul's admirers was President Ronald Reagan, who preceded him in death by less than a year.
"As you exhort us, we will listen," Reagan told him during their meeting in Miami in 1987. "For with all our hearts, we yearn to make this good land better still."
More praise came from Rabbi Solomon Schiff, who coordinated the pope's 1987 meeting in Miami with national Jewish leaders.
"He used his papacy to help bring all people together, to recognize people of all faiths, as children of God who have the right to be respected -- and to be loved and spared from pain and suffering," said the rabbi, executive vice president at the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.
Evangelist Billy Graham -- himself one of the best-known religious leaders in the world -- praised John Paul as "unquestionably the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years. He was truly one of those rare individuals whose legacy will endure long after he has gone."
During his 21/2 decades in the Chair of Peter, John Paul II set several milestones. He was the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years. He was the first pope to visit a synagogue and a mosque. He spent more time in the United States than any other pope, before and after his election.
A master communicator, he was fluent in Polish, Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English, and had a knowledge of about twice that many languages -- including Urdu and Finnish.
He used his brilliant linguistic skills to prod people into living in peace, for nations to live like a family, in a "culture of life," as he called it.
"Violence only delays the day of justice," he said in Drogheda, Ireland, in 1979. "War is an adventure without return," he said Christmas Day in 1990, on the eve of the first Persian Gulf War.