ROME — Rome city officials expect approximately 3 million people to gather April 27 for the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II; that’s way too many people to watch the event near the Vatican, so they suggest the alternative of watching by the Colosseum and Roman Forum.
Presenting the city’s plans for dealing with pilgrims, Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, and other officials met the press April 1.
Their plans include:
– Closing to vehicular traffic the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the boulevard that runs from the central Piazza Venezia, along the Roman Forum to the Colosseum. The street will be pedestrian-only from 7 p.m. April 18 through May 4. Three large video screens will be erected, so pilgrims and tourists can watch Pope Francis’ Good Friday Way of the Cross service at the Colosseum April 18 as well as the canonizations nine days later.
– Video screens also will be set up in Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo and outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major for those wanting to watch the canonizations away from the Vatican crowds.
– April 26-28, the city’s sanitation department will have in place more than 1,000 chemical toilets near the Vatican, along Via dei Fori Imperiali and in other areas where large groups of people are expected to gather.
– Both of the city’s subway lines will run nonstop from early April 26 until just after midnight April 28. The 64-bus line, which runs from the main train station to the Vatican, also will run 24 hours a day the weekend of the canonization. Shuttle buses will run from the tour-bus parking facilities to the Vatican.
– 2,630 volunteers from the civil protection department will be deployed April 26-27 to help with crowd control.
– 4 million bottles of water will be distributed free to pilgrims.
– 4,000 traffic police will be on duty for the canonization weekend, and some 6,400 Rome city police will pull extra shifts April 13-28 for the Holy Week, Easter and canonization events.
– What amounts to a field hospital will be set up near the Vatican, in addition to 13 first aid stations staffed by 81 first aid teams; 106 ambulances will be on standby. The city also is erecting five “mother’s tents” for nursing or changing babies.