(CBS) –As the Chicago area Catholic community mourns the death of Francis Cardinal George Saturday morning, Pope Francis issued a telegram to George’s successor Archbishop Cupich to express his condolences.

The telegram reads: “Saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Francis E. George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. With gratitude for Cardinal George’s witness of consecrated life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, his service to the Church’s educational apostolate and his years of episcopal ministry in the Churches of Yakima, Portland and Chicago, I join you in commending the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father. To all who mourn the late Cardinal in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.”

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The cardinal met with Pope Francis in 2013 at the pontiff’s installation.

Vatican officials say the pope had great esteem for Cardinal George and was very close to him during his suffering.

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On Saturday at St. Mary of the Woods, parishioners were celebrating the life of Cardinal George. CBS 2’s Chris Martinez reports there had been a steady outpouring of grief throughout the area.

Earlier Saturday at Holy Name Cathedral, a photograph of Cardinal George at the altar captured the attention of devout Catholics, many gathering there throughout the day.

“Hopefully, the cardinal has imparted his message as to the values in life for people to follow and make better individuals and a better society,” said Latihka Siriwardene. “That is why ‘m here today to pay my respects to the great Cardinal George.”

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The final visitation for Cardinal George begins at Holy Name Cathedral on Tuesday and concludes Wednesday evening. The funeral will take place on Thursday and tickets will be required.
For a full schedule, click here.