Millions of Catholic Pilgrims May Attend Double Canonization

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 02:00 PM

By Edward Pentin

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be attending the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday, a senior Church official announced Wednesday.

"Rome will witness an event that’s never happened in the city’s history: two living popes and two pope saints," Msgr. Liberio Andreatta told reporters.


The vice president of Rome’s pilgrimage office wasn’t able to say whether Benedict would be concelebrating the Mass in St. Peter’s Square, but his presence will be the third time he’s appeared in public since his renunciation of the papacy last year. Earlier this week, the Vatican said it wouldn’t be sure of his attendance until the morning of the event.

Speaking to Newsmax on Wednesday, Andreatta, who is helping to lead the Church’s organization of the canonization, said Rome is "well prepared" and that he’s confident "everything will go OK."

A veteran of such events who has helped organize papal funerals, conclaves, and jubilee celebrations for over 40 years, he said it "seems chaotic because there’s so much to do."

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

"Before every event, everyone’s concerned, but I’m the only one who isn’t because I know everything will go OK, and Rome is used to this," he said. But he stressed no one knows the exact number of visitors: "I don’t have precise estimates — I’ll be able to tell you on April 28th, the day after the event."

Both he and Maurizio Pucci, chief coordinator of special projects for the mayor of Rome, told reporters Wednesday that they predict a minimum of 500,000 pilgrims and a maximum of a million, though others predict far more, possibly even 7 million.

Pucci, who revealed that 1,700 coaches, 58 chartered planes, and five trains are bringing pilgrims from Poland alone, said a problem is that the number of reservations don’t match the figure given by their countries of origin. "Unlike other times, there are initiatives that go beyond dioceses, promoted by parishes across Europe, and they will be arriving without making reservations," he said.

He also pointed out that April is always a popular time of year for tourists to visit the Eternal City, and that every hotel in the city is sold out for the nights of the 26th and 27th. "It’s an enormous effort, but things are going in the right direction," he said. "We’re working 24 hours a day."

The event is being heavily sponsored by Italian energy giant ENI, as well as AGI, one of the country’s news agencies, and an assorted number of Italian companies, including Intesa San Paolo bank, UniCredit, and Ferrovie Italiane, the country’s rail network.

Their contribution will amount to 500,000 euros for the event; the city of Rome will also be contributing to the total cost for canonization, expected to be 5 million euros. "Between revenue and expenditure, we should be able to break even," Andreatta assured reporters.

A huge amount of manpower will be on hand, including 2,500 civil protection volunteers, 4,400 police and security personnel from the city of Rome and the Italian state, and several hundred medical staff. The Catholic Church will be providing 5,000 priests and several hundred seminarians and deacons to help administer Holy Communion, as well as hundreds of volunteers to act as welcomers.

Asked if it might have been better to have a separate canonization for each pope, Andreatta said that was a possibility, but he prefers it this way. "These popes span all age groups in today’s church," he said. "Those who were young during the pontificate of John XXIII are now old, and young people up to middle age remember John Paul II," he said.

Andreatta’s office has prepared a number of prayer vigils leading up to Sunday’s canonization, some geared to particular language groups.

All of Rome’s churches will stay open on the nights of April 26th and 27th for pilgrims to pray and go to confession.

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll


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