Once in a million year, we could say. If someone had ever told a catholic that two popes would become saints on a day when two more popes were still alive, well this person would have been considered totally crazy. But here we are!
On April 27 John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope after four centuries and a half, and the Lombard John XXIII will become saints. It’s called canonization and comes after beatification: it’s a two-stage process.
When JPII went through the beatification ceremony on 1 May 2011, an incredible amount of Polish faithful (around 1 million) came down to Rome. This time twice as many might show up for what is an unprecedented event for the Catholic church.
Many have doubts about JPII’s canonization. He only died 9 years ago and he was a very political pope, who actively engaged versus Communism and shrewdly used the Vatican’s bank to funnel money to his country’s opposition, the trade union Solidarnosc. Furthermore, his miracles are not crystal-clear (there’s joke according to which JPII’s second miracle is that he made seem true that first miracle was realistic!). The same current pope Francis seems to be against this, but the process was started by his (living) predecessor Benedict XVI who began to express his views in favor of the canonization of JPII soon after he was elected pope in 2005. Ratzinger was the first pope in 1,000 years to beatify his predecessor…..And JPII was waived the traditional 5-year waiting period for “exceptional circumstances”.
Most of the events unfold between April 25 and the 28th. Three days of prayer (in French) are organized by the French community as an itinerary of the five French churches in Rome.
On the 26th an afternoon prayer will be held in the church of Saint Paul Outside the Walls with objects belonging to John XXIII and to the Second Vatican Council displayed until 8:30pm.
The major night vigil will be held in 12 churches of downtown Rome. Liturgy and confessions will be held in many languages: Italian, Polish, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic and French.
Finally on the 27th at 10am, in St Peter’s square, the official ceremony will kick off: mass and canonization. No tickets are required to attend the event. Get there as early as you can and you’ll maybe find a good spot.
The following day there will be a Thanksgiving Mass in St Peter’s square at 10am.
Public transport will run with extended hours on the 26 and 27th with the underground (both lines A and B) nonstop between Saturday and Sunday. Also nonstop that night will be the bus line 64.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Carpatair inaugurates a new direct flight between Rome and the Polish city of Lublin on the 25th!
It is not a coincidence that Emirates has doubled its A380 Dubai-Rome flights until April 30.
The Roman Forum traffic ban will be enforced through May 4 from 9am to 7pm.
For the British faithfuls who are interested in this unique event but couldn’t make it to Rome, it may be interesting to know that 47 cinema theaters will air it live in 3D.
On the 27th, at 7pm the church of S. Maria in Portico in Campitelli will feature “Tu Es Petrus,” a free choir concert dedicated to the two popes saints.
For the occasion, the city government issued a new, shorter, tourist pass, the Roma Pass 48 hours.
There are two free exhibitions related to the canonization. One is about John XXIII and his relationship with the Eternal City in downtown Rome.
The other is a display of old Bibles in the Charlemagne Wing of the colonnade of St. Peter’s square, Verbum Domini (2nd edition).
Considered the April 27 one-off event, even if it’s the last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museums will be closed. Therefore, there will be no free entrance on April 27.
Stamp collectors, however, can rejoice for the new stamps (quite a lot) issued for the double canonization.
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