Life-size posters of Tutu, with his hands clasped, are placed outside the St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, where the number of congregants is restricted in line with Covid-19 measures.
South Africa has bid farewell to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the last great hero in its struggle against apartheid, in a funeral stripped of pomp but freighted with tears and drenched in rain.
The funeral on Saturday began with a hymn and a procession of clerics down the aisle burning incense and carrying candles in the church.
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been our moral compass and national conscience,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who delivered the funeral eulogy, said.
“Even after the advent of democracy, he did not hesitate to draw attention, often harshly, to our shortcomings as leaders of the democratic state."
Ramaphosa handed a national flag to Tutu’s widow, Leah, as she sat in a wheelchair.
Tutu died last Sunday at the age of 90, triggering grief among South Africans and tributes from world leaders for a life spent fighting injustice.
Modest requiem for a titan
Tutu, who became an Anglican priest in the early 1960s, was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to apartheid. He later became the first Black archbishop of Cape Town.
After South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, Mandela named Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body created to report on human rights violations that took place during apartheid.
Throughout his life, Tutu actively promoted equal rights for all people and denounced corruption and other failures he saw in South Africa's government, led by the African National Congress party.
The cathedral can hold 1,200 worshippers, but only 100 mourners were allowed to attend the funeral because of Covid-19 restrictions.
A few dozen people braved stormy weather to watch the service on a large screen in front of Cape Town City Hall.
The cathedral’s bells rang as Tutu’s casket was taken away after the funeral for a private cremation.
In keeping with Tutu's commitment to the environment, his body will be “aquamated,” a process that uses water to prepare remains for final disposition. Tutu's remains are to be interred at the cathedral where his funeral was held.
In the days before the funeral, several thousand people paid their respects to Tutu by filing by his casket in the cathedral and signing condolence books.