VATICAN CITY (C.M.Paul) – Thousands of John Paul II fans had to return home and hotels not finding place any where near the 15 giant television screens. St Peter’s Square is packed as well as the Via della Conciliazione leading to St Peter’s from river Tiber. PiazzadelRisorgimento less than a kilometer away was blocked before 6 am and people sat on the road and pavement in front of a giant screen there.
Sean Patrick Lowett, the most familiar voice of the Vatican Radio English language service is giving commentary on FM, MW and SW broadcast for the world. He was at St Peter’s Square when JP2 was elected pope in October 1978 and also for JP2’s funeral in April 2005.
Pilgrims have stayed awake the whole night after the vigil at the Circo Massimo, the ancient Roman race course, famous for its chariot races. The two hour programme was linked up with four international shrines ofLebanon, Fatima, Guadalupe andTanzaniain the recitation of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary which JP2 had introduced to the world by several channels including satellite TV 2000.
JP2’s casket was exhumed from the crypt of the popes and placed in front of the high altar at St Peter’s Basilica for veneration by faithful starting mid day, Sunday 1 May, after the beatification ceremony.
The beatification ceremony started off at 9 am with hour long preparation with the multilingual devotions of the Divine Mercy chaplet. The choir of the archdiocese ofRomeis in attendance for this service.
The beatification ceremony presented by pope Benedict 16 will start at 10 am. It is expected to last two hours and will conclude with the Regina Caeli prayer.
Monday, 10.30 am the Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone will conclude the beatification events with an open air Eucharist at St Peter’s Square.
Polish pilgrims came with 120 additional flights as well as thousands of buses. Most will return home Sunday afternoon.
Besides police, security officials, thousands of civilian volunteers and protection forces dressed in their unmistakable scarlet jumpers are every where to greet people as they emerge out of trains and buses, as well as on the roads.
The thousands of police deployed are relaxed while police helicopters hover the skies above St Peter Squareand vicinity.
Sense of security and prayerful jubilation reigns supreme. A conservative estimate has some two billion television viewers expected to follow the first ever, filming of a beatification event in 3D television.
People turned up with umbrellas, for the fear of rain, were blessed to shield themselves against the sun at the piazza.
Over one million bottles of free water were distributed by Comune di Roma at the Piazza to pilgrims who had camped over night for the beatification. Rome metro trians started at 4 am Sunday morning and the St Peter’s basilica will remain open Sunday whole night for pilgrims to file past JP2’s casket.