CHICAGO (CBS) — Approximately 2,000 mourners packed Holy Name Cathedral on Thursday, as they gathered for the funeral mass for the late Cardinal Francis George.

His body resting in a simple wooden casket topped with a crucifix in the sanctuary at Holy Name, George was described as a man whose faith “was simple, direct, childlike.”

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Many people who knew him were struck by his intellect.

Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain gave the homily, saying George was a man of great compassion as well, and that empathy for others came from his own suffering.

“When the polio virus attacked him at age 13, he learned early and quickly that suffering is not hypothetical, but real,” he said.

Later, three bouts with cancer further changed the cardinal.

“The crosses of Francis George transformed him, exteriorly and interiorly, into a man of compassion for all who suffered,” Sartain said.

According to Sartain, George was so utterly a priest, and offered a life devoted to prayer.

Sartain also borrowed some of George’s own words to honor the late cardinal.

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“The only thing we take with us when we die is what we have given away in life,” he said.

George died Friday at the age of 78, five months after he retired as head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. He led a flock of more than 2 million Catholics in Chicago for more than 17 years.

After his funeral at Holy Name Cathedral, his body was taken past St. Pascal Parish, his boyhood church, where around 200 parishioners and students watched the funeral on a large screen in the school gymnasium.

“It’s sad that we lost him, but he’s not suffering anymore,” one mourner told CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker outside St. Pascal. “He’s at peace and he’s with God.”

Deacon Gene Dorgan remembered when George’s predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin died, and the church began hoping George would return to Chicago to lead the Chicago Archdiocese.

“We really didn’t expect it, because it’s not ordinary that they would send a man back to his hometown. So we were very appreciative, and we had a pretty good celebration for him when he came,” he said.

George was the first Chicago native to lead the local archdiocese.

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He was laid to rest in the George family plot at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports mourners gathered there for the final, graveside farewell.