* Vatican says city is ready for ceremonies
* Hoteliers promise "ethical pact" against inflated prices
* Three days of events biggest in Rome since 2005 funeral
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, April 5 (Reuters) - The Vatican urged the
faithful on Tuesday not to let reports of huge crowds or
unscrupulous hoteliers deter them from coming to Rome for the
beatification of the late Pope John Paul on May 1.
"I invite everyone to come. Rome is ready. Don't be afraid
of coming or of inviting people," said Father Caesar Atuire.
The Vatican has begun the countdown to what will be the
biggest event in the Italian capital since the death of the
charismatic and highly popular pope in 2005, when millions of
people came to view his body or attend his funeral.
Vatican officials expect at least 300,000 people --
including tens of thousands from his native Poland -- to come to
Rome for the three days of events during which he will be
declared a "blessed", the last step before sainthood.
The Vatican has already warned the faithful to beware of
fraudsters, particularly on the Internet, who are selling
tickets to the beatification ceremony. No tickets will be
necessary for any of the ceremonies.
The star of the Rome events will be Sister Marie
Simon-Pierre, a 49-year-old French nun who is said to have been
miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease months after John
Paul's death after she and fellow nuns prayed to him.
Vatican officials told a news conference that they had
stipulated an "ethical pact" with the Rome hoteliers association
in which members promised not to jack up prices for the period
of the events, when rooms are expected to be scarce.
There have been numerous media reports of skyrocketing
prices, particularly in hotels in Rome's historic centre or in
the Vatican area on the other side of the Tiber River.
Officials said the crowd would be marshalled by police and
hundreds of volunteers. Giant television screens will be placed
around Rome, 14 of them alone on Via della Conciliazione, the
boulevard leading from the Tiber to St Peter's Square.
THREE DAYS OF EVENTS
The three days of events begin on the evening of April 30
when a massive prayer vigil expected to attract several hundred
thousand people will be held in Rome's Circus Maximus oval,
where the ancient Romans held horse and chariot races.
Several of the late pope's closest collaborators, including
his long-time secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and his
spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, will address the crowd.
John Paul's wooden coffin will be exhumed from its current
place in the crypts below St Peter's Basilica.
After the beatification mass in St Peter's Square on May 1,
it will covered with a white drape and placed before the main
altar in St Peter's Basilica and remain there for viewing and
veneration non-stop until everyone who wants to can see it.
Pope Benedict will preside at the beatification Mass on May
1 and his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will
preside at a "Mass of Thanksgiving in the square on May 2.
To be beatified, a dead person must be declared by the
Church to have interceded with God to perform a miracle that is
otherwise inexplicable by medicine.
For John Paul to become a saint, the Church would have to
declare that a second miracle had occurred after beatification.
Crowds at John Paul's funeral on April 8, 2005 chanted
"Santo subito!" ("Make him a saint right now!")
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
(For more on faith and ethics, see the Reuters religion blog
FaithWorld at http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld )
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