Cardinal Cahal Daly will lie in state tomorrow in St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast where he was based for much of his career.
The 92-year-old retired Cardinal died last night in Belfast City Hospital where he was being treated after falling seriously ill with a heart condition five days ago.
Politicians and church leaders paid tribute to Cardinal Daly who was Archbishop of Armagh and Catholic Primate of all Ireland from 1990 until 1996.
Leading politicians have praised Cardinal Daly for helping to nurture the peace process and improve community relations in Northern Ireland.
The current Catholic Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady said 'at a critical and troubled time in Irish history, he was prophetic in his conviction that lasting peace can only be built on justice, mutual understanding and respect for the traditions and aspirations of others.'
He continued 'he was firm and courageous in his absolute rejection of violence as a means of achieving political ends.'
Taoiseach Brian Cowen, said Cardinal Daly had made a huge contribution to both the Catholic Church and civic society in Ireland.
The Cardinal's body will arrive at St Peter's Cathedral in the west of the city at noon tomorrow where Mass will be celebrated and he will lie in state until 9pm.
On Sunday the current Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, will lead a prayer service at 3pm before the Cardinal's body is taken to St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Ireland's ecclesiastical capital, where his funeral Mass will take place at noon on Tuesday.
Cardinal Daly was born in Co Antrim, was an outspoken critic of violence, and particularly of the IRA.
Dr Daly took on the post of Catholic Primate at the age of 73 and was a surprise choice for the position, but became a prominent figure.
He retired in October 1996, when Cardinal Brady took over the role, and returned to his study of philosophy.
Cardinal Daly was renowned as a prolific author and has had many philosophical papers and books published.