Two popes being sainted at major event in Rome

Two popes being sainted at major event in Rome

Credit: Getty Images

Pilgrims hold a banner picturing Pope John Paul II as they gather in Saint Peter's Square on April 26, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and across the World are gathering in the Vatican ahead of tomorrow's canonisations. The late Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonised on Sunday April 27, inside the Vatican when 800,000 pilgrims from around the world are expected to attend.

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by Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on April 26, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Updated Sunday, Apr 27 at 10:06 AM

VATICAN CITY  -- Retired pontiff Benedict XVI will help Pope Francis celebrate the sainthood ceremony Sunday for John Paul II and John XXIII, setting the stage for an unprecedented occurrence of two living popes canonizing two of their predecessors. About 1 million pilgrims are expected at the event and many were flooding into Rome on Saturday.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters on Saturday that Benedict will be in St. Peter's Square for the canonization of John and John Paul. He said Benedict and many cardinals will "concelebrate" the Mass with Francis.

Benedict resigned from the papacy a year ago, and since has largely dedicated himself to prayer in a monastery on the Vatican grounds. Sunday's appearance will be his highest-profile one since he retired. Francis, who lives elsewhere in Vatican City, in a guesthouse, has been quite welcoming to his predecessor, occasionally paying a call on Benedict.  It was Francis who sought to include Benedict in Sunday's ceremony, expected to draw hundreds of thousands of tourists and pilgrims.

"Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the invitation, and has let Pope Francis know that he will be present tomorrow morning at the canonization ceremony and will concelebrate" along with other prelates, Lombardi said.

"That doesn't mean that he will go up on the altar" on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, Lombardi said of the outdoor Mass. He noted that during the ceremony, cardinals and bishops will be seated on one side of the esplanade, with, presumably, Benedict, among them.

"We will all be happy to have his presence" at the ceremony, the Vatican spokesman said.

Benedict also showed up Francis' ceremony to elevate churchmen to cardinal's rank in February. But that ceremony wasn't a Mass, meaning Sunday's appearance by two popes would be the first Mass concelebrated by two pontiffs, one reigning and the other retired.

As German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict presided over John Paul II's funeral in the square in 2005. He was soon elected pontiff himself, going on to lead the ceremony to beatify his Polish-born predecessor in 2011, also in the square. Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood. It was John Paul who, early in his papacy, appointed the German prelate to a key Vatican post in charge of safeguarding church teaching, and eventually, also dealing with the mounting cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the United States and elsewhere.

Benedict has a connection to John XXII's papacy as well. As a young theologian, he attended the Second Vatican Council, the gathering of prelates from around the globe that the Italian pope set up as a way to bring modernizing reforms to the Catholic church.

On Saturday, pilgrims were pouring into Rome in big groups or as individual families or travelers, eager to be among those taking their place in the square before dawn on the day of the ceremony.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said an estimated 1 million people were expected to flood into Rome for the event.

Working to ensure the crowds are safe, authorities were deploying about 3,500 extra police officers in Rome, beefing up the total to around 10,000 officers.

Police were also trying to keep faithful from being ripped off. Italy's customs and tax police cracked down on vendors selling counterfeit merchandise, confiscating 1,500 boxes of rosaries resembling the ones that Pope Francis had distributed free to faithful in St. Peter's Square in November. The boxes resemble packets of pills, in line with Francis' description of the rosary prayer as "spiritual medicine." The tax police also handed out fines to 23 establishments that were billing themselves as bed-and-breakfast lodgings for pilgrims, even though they lacked the proper authorization to rent out rooms.

  1. THE CEREMONY
The preliminary part of the ceremony begins at around 0700 GMT with prayers, hymns and culminates with the chanting of the hypnotic Litany of Saints, the roll call of the church's saints, each one followed by the refrain "Ora pro nobis," or "Pray for us.”

After Pope Francis and concelebrants process to the altar, the canonization rite begins immediately.

The head of the Vatican's saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Amato, asks the pope three separate times to include John XXIII and John Paul II among the saints. In the rite for beatification, there is only one such petition. The three repeated requests for canonization "signify the importance of this celebration," noted the Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

2. THE PRONOUNCEMENT
Pope Francis then says: "For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church. In the name of the Holy Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

3. THE RELICS
Relics of the two new saints are then brought to the altar. In the case of John Paul, the same relic -- his blood -- used for his 2011 beatification is being used. For John XXIII, a small piece of skin taken after his body was exhumed for his 2000 beatification is being used. Relics -- the physical remains of a new saint or things he or she touched in life -- are used to help the faithful venerate.

Amato then thanks Francis and asks him to draw up an official document attesting to the canonization. Francis responds "We so decree" and the rite ends with the singing of the "Gloria.”

The Mass then proceeds as usual.

4. BY THE NUMBERS
--The Vatican said Saturday that Francis would preside over the Mass and Benedict would concelebrate along with 150 cardinals and 700 bishops. It's the first time Benedict has joined Francis in celebrating Mass in public since his resignation in 2013. Benedict attended the February ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica in which Francis installed 19 new cardinals, but as a spectator.

--About 600 priests will distribute Communion in St. Peter's Square and 210 deacons will distribute Communion to the throngs of people expected to line up along Via della Conciliazione, the main boulevard leading away from the square.

--93 official delegations attending, including an estimated 24 heads of state. The kings and queens of Belgium and Spain are expected, as are royals from Andorra, Britain and Luxemburg. Poland is sending one of the largest delegations with the current president and two former presidents, including Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that toppled communism in Poland, which John Paul supported.

--20 Jewish leaders from the U.S., Israel, Argentina, Poland and Rome.

5. VIRTUAL CANONIZATION
--Official website www.2popesaints.org with information also available at www.vatican.va
--Vatican liturgical booklet with step-by-step process of canonization rite and order of Mass at http://www.vatican.va/news--services/liturgy/libretti/2014/20140427-libretto-canonizzazione.pdf
--Official hashtag #2popesaints

 

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