Catholics around the world have been attending special masses, vigils, and prayers marking the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, in tributes that resonated with particular poignancy in the late pontiff's native Poland.

From early morning, believers thronged to the outskirts of Krakow for a huge open-air mass held to pray for the rapid beatification of the late Pope.

Huge crowds are expected for the open air mass in Krakow, celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio.

Church dignitaries have been joined by the Polish government leaders who have been hearing a special homily to mark the first anniversary.

Special masses are also being celebrated at cathedrals around Ireland.

In Dublin, over 1,000 members of the Polish community attended attending a special Mass in Cork city to mark the anniversary. The voice of the late Pontiff rang out in the darkened interior of St Augustine's church during the service. A vigil took place at 8.40pm to coincide with the exact time Pope John Paul died.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, celebrated Mass in Armagh this morning in which there were some readings in Polish and Polish girls brought up the offertory gifts. 

Thousands to attend Vatican vigil

Pilgrims have already been arriving for a vigil this evening in St Peter's Square where tens of thousands are expected to attend.

This morning Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to his predecessor before saying the Angelus prayer.

In a voice choked with emotion, Pope Benedict said that a year from his death, a great pope had left us an immense heritage.