Beatification of Pope John Paul II

Up to 200,000 people held a prayer vigil on Saturday night ahead of the beatification of Pope John Paul II.  The crowd of mostly young people flocked to the Circus Maximus oval, where ancient Romans ran chariot races, to pray, sing and celebrate as they waited for Sunday’s beatification.

Record crowds are expected in Rome for the beatification.  Cardinal Sean Brady,  Cardinal Desmond Connell and Bishop Buckley of Cork will attend the celebrations.   A place of honour is  reserved for Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun who suffered from Parkinson's disease, the same ailment that afflicted the pope for the last 12 years of his life.  The Vatican has deemed that Sr. Marie's otherwise inexplicable cure after she and her fellow nuns prayed to the dead pope was due to John Paul's intercession with God to perform a miracle, thus permitting the beatification to go ahead.

Pope John Paul's wooden coffin was exhumed from its resting place in a crypt under Saint Peter's Basilica Friday, ahead of a beatification ceremony that will put him one step from sainthood.  Church officials including Kraków Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former secretary to the late pope, prayed and held a brief ceremony in front of the coffin.  It was then carried a short distance to the tomb of Saint Peter.

Following Sunday's beatification Mass in the basilica, thousands of pilgrims are expected to file past the wooden coffin to pay their respects.  Afterwards the coffin will be moved to a new crypt in the basilica, near the Michelangelo statue of the Pieta.

The marble slab that covered his first burial place will be sent to Poland, where the late Pope was born.

A phial of John Paul's blood, taken from him during his illness, has been prepared as a relic for veneration.

In Dublin, on 1 May, to mark thes occasion, a Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, in St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, at 6.30pm.


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