.- Thousands of Poles are making their way to Rome to attend the funeral mass of their most well-known and well-loved native son. Many among them are youth, who are willing to sleep just about anywhere to have a chance to pay tribute to the only Pope they ever knew.
The Polish media actually estimated Monday that up to one million Poles would head to Rome over the next two days to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II, who died April 2, after nearly 26 years as Pope. He was 84. He was the first Polish Pope and the first non-Italian to lead the Catholic Church in 455 years.
Six extra trains are scheduled to leave Warsaw for Rome beginning Tuesday night, rail authorities announced. And bus services are expected to reach record levels.
Since the Pope’s death, tour company owner Malgorzata Rudowska Bulka has been working around the clock in Krakow to co-ordinate travel plans for her fellow countrymen, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Bulka's entire family has made pilgrimages to the Vatican their business for the past decade. She met Pope John Paul II numerous times during visits to the Vatican, and he even baptized her youngest daughter, now 8.
Her husband and son own a bus garage and maintain eight 50-seat buses, all of which will be used for this pilgrimage. She said she was counting on nearly everyone in her family to be in Rome for the funeral, except herself.
"How could I go?” she told the newspaper, tears slipping from her eyes. "I've never been there without him. ... I know his soul is here, now, next to me. That's enough."