By Catholic News Agency's Vatican Observer, Andrea Gagliarducci
Up to 5 million may go to Rome for Papal canonizations
Bl. John XXIII's tomb under the altar of St. Jerome in St. Peter's Basilica. Credit: John Mosbaugh.
Bl. John XXIII's tomb under the altar of St. Jerome in St. Peter's Basilica. Credit: John Mosbaugh.
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.- As many as 5 million people could travel to Rome for the April 27 canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, and are expected to arrive beginning on Good Friday, April 18.

Rome will be a hot spot for tourism also because on April 25 Italy celebrates its liberation from fascism, and is national holiday. Many Italians will take advantage of the day off to spend the weekend in Rome, so pilgrims and tourists will be mixing during these days.

According to a source in the Vatican-affiliated pilgrim office Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi who spoke with CNA March 13, “the number of pilgrims may be overestimated,” with it “more likely that the pilgrims for the canonizations will be around 1.5 million persons.”

Rome is anyway considering how to avoid overcrowding, and access to St. Peter’s Square.

Maurizio Pucci, an official of the city, said there will be just 10,000 reserved seats for guests and dignitaries in the square, while there will be “free access, with no ticket needed, to the whole area which comprises St. Peter’s Square, Piazza Pio XII, and Via della Conciliazione,” the road which runs from Castel Sant’Angelo into St. Peter’s.

The area from Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter’s Square can contain from 150-200,000, so “jumbotrons will be installed in the big squares of Rome’s downtown … so that people can gather there and watch the celebration live,” he added.

Polish pilgrims are expected to number some 300,000, and five busloads will arrive from Sotto il Monte, the town in Lombardy where Bl. John XXIII was born and raised.

The evening prior to the canonizations will be a night of prayer, with many parishes in Rome’s center open from 9 to midnight so that pilgrims will be able to keep vigil.

At the moment, it is estimated that 85 percent of Rome’s hotels are booked for the canonization period. Pilgrims will be also accommodated in the nearby towns of Fiumicino and Civitavecchia, where ships of pilgrims arriving from Spain will be docked.

It is rumored that Vatican Television has signed an agreement with Sony for a live, 3d broadcast of the ceremony.

Msgr. Dario Vigano, director of Vatican Television, told CNA March 4, “we are studying how to involve new technologies” for the canonizations.

Marta Leonori, assessor of the Rome Town Hall for Tourism, has announced there will be a “Roma Pass” for the weekend -- a special card, the fee for which includes three days of public transport, free entrance in two museums, and price reductions for the other museums in Rome.

Tags: Blessed John Paul II, Blessed John XXIII

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