VATICAN CITY — Just over three weeks before the canonizations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, Rome hotels are reporting they are almost fully booked and the Vatican has confirmed the Mass will take place in St. Peter’s Square, despite knowing that hundreds of thousands of people will have to watch the ceremony on large video screens.
Pope Francis had announced in late September that he would proclaim the two popes saints in a single ceremony April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Less than two weeks after the date was announced, the Prefecture of the Papal Household issued an advisory that access to St. Peter’s Square would be first-come, first-served and warned pilgrims that unscrupulous tour operators already were trying to sell fake tickets to the Mass.
Blessed John Paul, known as a globetrotter who made 104 trips outside Italy, served as pope from 1978 to 2005 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011. Blessed John XXIII, known particularly for convoking the Second Vatican Council, was pope from 1958 to 1963; Pope John Paul beatified him in 2000.
In July, Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing the healing of a Costa Rican woman with a life-threatening brain aneurysm as the miracle needed for Blessed John Paul’s canonization. The same day, the Vatican announced that the pope had agreed with members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes that the canonization of Blessed John should go forward even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession.
Beginning this week, and in the three subsequent issues, the Catholic Herald is featuring articles about Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II, who will be canonized on Sunday, April 27.
A first miracle is needed for beatification. In Pope John Paul’s cause, the miracle involved a French nun suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the same disease the pope had. In the cause of Pope John, the Vatican recognized as a miracle the healing of an Italian nun who was dying from complications after stomach surgery.
In February, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said Pope Francis did not skip an essential step in approving Blessed John’s canonization, but “only shortened the time to give the entire church the great opportunity of celebrating 2014 with John XXIII, the initiator of the Second Vatican Council, and John Paul II, who brought to life the pastoral, spiritual and doctrinal inspiration of its documents.”
Marco Piscitello, a spokesman for the Rome hotel owners’ association, Federalberghi, said that already by early March, owners were reporting that more than 82 percent of hotel rooms in the city had been booked for the canonization weekend.
“There will be a strong presence in Rome for this double canonization,” he said.