Cardinal Comastri remembered the great faith of John Paul II and his untiring devotion to the Blessed Mother.
"Every time we touch the crown of the Holy Rosary and recite the Holy Mary, may a spontaneous exclamation come out of our hearts, "Totus tuus, Maria!" (Totally yours, Mary!). It is the Marian inheritance that John Paul II left us."
Initiatives to remember the Pope are also popping up all over the city. On March 31 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Vatican's department for saints' causes and the late-Pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, will be joined by journalists and experts in examining public opinion and "sensus fidei" (sense of the faithful) ahead of the beatification.
A pub in downtown Rome called the GP2 (Italian abbreviation for JPII) has announced that it will be hosting a series of encounters for the month of April in the countdown to the beatification. The Diocese of Rome-sponsored establishment has scheduled the likes of Fr. Slawomir Oder, the priest in charge of John Paul II's cause for sainthood, and former vicar general of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, as speakers at the gatherings.
Pontifical universities and religious communties are organizing events, lectures, conferences and prayer memorials for the late Pope ahead of this occasion, which could prove to be the largest since his funeral on April 8, 2005.
Vatican officials are hesitant to make estimates as to possible attendance. Expectations will certainly be become more clear during an April 5 press conference at the Vatican's Press Office. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, current vicar general of Rome, and other Church officials will host the press event.
At a March 29 press conference, Vatican-affiliated pilgrimage and travel agency Opera Romana Pelligrinagi (ORP) set the bar low, saying they are expecting a minimum of 300,000 people to attend.
The pilgrimage agency has set up reliable information hub at www.jpiibeatus.org, offering information on the beatification, lodging and travel for anyone interested in making the trip.
The organization is even offering a multilingual telephone hotline for direct inquiries and a discounted three-day tour pass for the weekend. They emphasize that no ticket is needed for the ceremony.
The agency announced that structures are being built around St. Peter's Square for the huge influx of people. Reception points will serve pilgrims around the Square with bathrooms and refreshment stands, while young adults are encouraged to "spend the night safely" in a village set up outside the city.
They announced that the city of Rome awaits all who come "with open arms."
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