Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns was renowned for his work with the poor and political prisoners

For two days, a steady flow of worshippers made their way up the steps of the Sao Paulo cathedral to pay their last respects to Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns.

Cardinal Arns, 95, who died on December 14 of pneumonia, was known for his work with the poor, the children and the political prisoners during Brazil’s military dictatorship.

The cathedral, which remained open round-the-clock since the evening of his death, held a Mass every two hours with the cardinal’s casket present.

Among the dignitaries who visited the cathedral were former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin.

“Brazil lost one of its greatest symbols in the struggle for justice,” Lula said after learning of the cardinal’s death.

But the vast majority of people entering the cathedral were those whom Cardinal Arns had dedicated his life to help the poor.

Sao Paulo Archbishop Odilo Scherer presided over a final Mass on December 16. It was followed by a private funeral with only religious personnel and Cardinal Arns’ family.

Cardinal Arns will lie in the cathedral’s crypt, alongside 16 others, including indigenous leader Tibirica, who in the 16th century welcomed the first Jesuits to Sao Paulo.

A cathedral spokesman said Cardinal Arns will be the third archbishop and the first cardinal to be buried in the crypt.