Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – The city of Rome is preparing to receive hundreds of thousands of faithful for the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II in St. Peter's Square tomorrow, which will be attended by delegations from more than 100 countries and at least 24 Heads of State.
Already during this past week the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) has installed 19 maxi-screens to enable faithful and pilgrims to see the ceremony for the canonisation of the two Popes in both Rome and Milan. Three will be located in the central Via dei Fori Imperiali, one at Rome's Fiumicino airport and another in Piazza del Duomo, Milan. However, the majority of these new screens will be set up in the streets adjacent to St. Peter's Square: Via della Conciliazione, Piazza Pio XII, and in the pedestrian zone and gardens of Castel Sant'Angelo. There are screens in Piazza Navona and Piazza Farnese for Polish- and French-speaking pilgrims respectively, and another at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. News and films relating to the two Popes, as well as public service information, will be broadcast in six languages until Monday 28 April.
Bishop Liberio Andreatta, commenting on this unprecedented event, remarks: “Never in the history of Rome or in the history of the world has this occurred: two Pope Saints and two living Popes who knew them”. There is, therefore, a rich and varied agenda of activities preceding the event. Yesterday, French pilgrims began their “Path of Holiness” which will conclude on 27 April; it consists of an itinerary of art and faith taking in the five churches of the French community in Rome. Similarly, university students planning to attend the canonisation took part in Mass in the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. Today, at 6 p.m., pilgrims from Bergamo, the province where John XXIII was born, will gather in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, while at 7 p.m. a prayer vigil will begin at the church of Santa Maria in Montesanto, “the artists' church”, in Piazza del Popolo.
At 9 p.m. the “white night” of prayer will begin. Churches in the centre of Rome will remain open for prayer vigils or confession, and liturgical celebrations will take place in various languages in the churches of Sant' Agnese in Agone, San Marco al Campidoglio, Sant'Anastasia, Santissimo Nome di Gesu, Santa Maria in Vallicella, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Sant'Andrea della Valle, San Bartolomeo all'Isola Tiberina, Sant'Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio, the Holy Stigmata of St. Francis, the Twelve Apostles, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The young people of Catholic Action will meet in the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionfale from 10.30 p.m. until 5 a.m on 27 April.
Tomorrow, 100 members of the ORP and 550 volunteers from Catholic associations will be available to assist those present in Via della Conciliazione, providing all types of information. From 5 a.m. eight buses will transport to St. Peter's Square 200 priests and deacons for the distribution of the Eucharist, as well as 5000 Roman priests and 200 seminarians from the capital and from Bergamo, who will attend the ceremony. Bishop Andreatta emphasises that entry to St. Peter's Square is free and there are no tickets. The Prefecture of the Papal Household has also issued a reminder to the public to be vigilant regarding ticket touting and requests for money from agencies and tour operators for the purposes of obtaining tickets, reiterating that participation in celebrations presided by the Holy Father is entirely free.
The municipality of Rome has made special transport provisions for this period. The metro lines will be open around the clock from 26 to 28 April, the number of buses in service will increase, policing will be reinforced and there will be fourteen mobile medical units, as well as 2,630 civil protection volunteers in active service.
The internet will also play a role during these special days. The Office of the Postulation of the Vicariate of Rome has created a free App, “Santo Subito”, available in four languages and providing news, maps, itineraries and an order of service for the canonisation ceremony, along with an agenda of all the events planned from 25 to 28 April.
The Vatican Museums are celebrating the canonisation with a photographic exhibition entitled “The humility and courage that changed history”, which presents 120 photographs of the two Pope saints. This photographic anthology, which will remain open to the public until 19 July, is divided into two sections: the first, entirely in black and white, narrates the pontificate of John XXIII, whereas the second, in colour, presents that of John Paul II, the longest of the twentieth century.