Destinations

Double Canonization Draws Nearly 1 Million Tourists to Rome

Apr 26, 2014 4:00 pm

Skift Take

Religious events for all beliefs are an under-appreciated reason for why people travel.

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Emilio Morenatti  / Associated Press

Joanna Osowska, 23, from Poland, sits in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Pilgrims and faithful are gathering in Rome to attend Sunday's ceremony at the Vatican where Pope Francis will elevate in a solemn ceremony John XXIII and John Paul II to sainthood. Emilio Morenatti / Associated Press


By train, bus, car and on foot, pilgrims and tourists streamed into Rome on Saturday to participate in the ceremony in St. Peter’s Square that will see two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, be proclaimed saints.

Italy’s interior minister says as many as 1 million people could be drawn to Rome for the extraordinary occurrence of two pontiffs being canonized at a Mass on Sunday where two living popes will be present. The Vatican has confirmed that retired Benedict XVI will help Pope Francis and dozens of cardinals celebrate the Mass outside St. Peter’s Basilica.

The square will open to the faithful Sunday morning before dawn, and many people had spread out sleeping bags and mats in the area just outside the Vatican in hopes of securing prime viewing spots. The sound of hymns being sung in Italian, Polish, English and other languages could be heard Saturday in much of Rome as pilgrims made their way through the capital heading from buses and trains toward the Vatican. Some pilgrims set out weeks ago from Poland to make the journey by foot; others were arriving by horseback.

Tens of thousands of faithful, many of them young people, will pack several churches throughout Rome late Saturday for a prayer vigil.

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