Watch: Céline Dion stands strong as she greets hundreds of mourners at René's wake

By admin
22 January 2016

Eventually she became exhausted and started trembling, but Céline Dion stood by her husband's casket hour after hour, speaking softy to every fan who came to pay their respects.

Céline Dion greeted hundreds of mourners who paid their respects to her late husband René Angélil in Montreal, Canada on Thursday.

The singer's longtime partner and manager passed away last week following a battle with cancer, and the day before his funeral, Céline attended his public wake at the Notre-Dame Basilica, the same church where she and Rene exchanged vows in 1994 and baptised their first child, 14-year-old son Rene-Charles.

According to Canada's The Toronto Star newspaper, Céline stood next to her husband's open casket as she greeted friends, family and Quebec political and cultural figures, who lined up in the cold to share their condolences. She was joined by René's adult sons Patrick and Jean-Pierre from a previous marriage in the receiving line, as well as Rene-Charles for part of the viewing.

Mourners received a programme with a photo of René on the front, along with a quote from Céline which reads: "I understood that my career was in a way his masterpiece, his song, his symphony. The idea of leaving it unfinished would have hurt him terribly. I realized that if he ever left us, I would have to continue without him, for him."

A well-wisher from Montreal, Mary Belisle, another , who for over three hours to offer her sympathies, told People. "I did tell Céline, 'thank you for being here' because she's receiving everyone, one person at a time, and she's taking more of her time. That's why we kind of froze for hours before getting inside: It was worth it because it wasn't like in-and-out, in-and-out – she actually took the time; she shook our hand, and some actually even kissed her," she tells PEOPLE. "It was very personal words, even the eye contact. She was very sincere."

"You could tell our love was helping her – she was taking it in."

Today, Céline will return to the church for his funeral, which will be officiated by the Archbishop of Montreal and will also be streamed online for fans around the world to view, much like the wake on Thursday.

Céline took to Twitter on Thursday and invited fans from around the world to take part in her late husband's funeral, writing, "From anywhere across the globe, it will be possible to follow René Angelil’s state funeral online tomorrow."

She added a link to a website in his honour.

The service will also be televised on three Canadian networks.

Meanwhile, Quebec's Premier, Philippe Couillard, has declared the ceremony a national funeral for Montreal-born Rene, and the flag at the Quebec National Assembly will fly at half-mast on Friday.

A memorial service is also planned for 3 February at Las Vegas' Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where Dion has performed a residency since 2011.

René died two days before the pop star's brother Daniel lost his battle with cancer. He will be buried in Montreal on Saturday.

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