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Rome already crushed with pilgrims for historic canonization of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII

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Three to four million pilgrims expected to attend event.

Rome is well-packed with throngs of pilgrims who have begun a week's long vigil awaiting the most historic canonization in world history. Next Sunday, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized by Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis.

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Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
4/22/2014 (7 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict, Pope John XXIII, canonization, Rome, pilgrims

ROME, ITALY (Catholic Online) - The crowds will set records, and Rome may already have a million pilgrims in the city. The numbers could swell to three million who will all try to attend the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Everyone is hoping to get a glimpse of the two living pontiffs, Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis.

This marks the only time in history that two living pontiffs have presided over the canonization of two others who lived in their own lifetime.

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Across Rome and throughout much of Italy, hotel rooms are booked beyond capacity, and residents are taking in strangers who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets, such is their loyal devotion to their faith.

Among the pilgrims, the talk is mostly about John Paul II and if he will be dubbed "The Great." If he is so entitled, he will be just the fourth pope in history to earn the sobriquet. Pope John XXIII is often referred to as "the Good Pope" because he was devoted to the cause of the poor and downtrodden. Like Pope Francis, John XXIII left the Vatican to perform random acts of charity.

Most of the world's billion-plus Catholics are of course, unable to attend and will watch the event unfold on television. Catholics will participate through prayers and during Sunday Mass, Catholics will also flock to buy souvenirs, particularly medals and prayer cards that refer to both popes as "blessed" since these artifacts will become rare after Sunday and in the years to come.

In addition to the 3-4 million pilgrims, nineteen heads of state and 24 prime ministers will also be in attendance. Churches in and around Rome will remain open overnight, although they will not be able to provide food or mass-use sanitary facilities. The churches will not be intended for sleeping, however it is likely that throngs of pilgrims will use parish grounds for that purpose anyway, since millions of people without rooms will need to reside somewhere.

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