Fri 31st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 11:33am

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Comment & Blogs

John Paul II, We love you!

St Peter’s Square was crammed this morning as pilgrims started arriving for tomorrow’s beatification of Pope John Paul II

By on Saturday, 30 April 2011

John Paul II, We love you!

“Saint Faustina, pray for us” sings a group of American students perched in a corner of the Via della Conciliazione, the main avenue leading up to St Peter’s Square. It’s been drizzling in Rome all morning but this hasn’t deterred the pilgrims. Yesterday’s calm is almost gone. The crowds have swelled almost overnight. They are everywhere, pouring out of the colonnades, queues spiralling in an ever widening circle around the square to get into St Peter’s basilica.

There are Polish flags everywhere, bobbing over the umbrellas and plastic rain slickers, while young Polish pilgrims sing songs with drums and tambourines. There are more different orders of nuns and religious than I have ever seen in one place at one time. People have taken their rucksacks, sleeping bags, mats, bottles of water with them on their backs. Although there are young and old, the number of young people who seem to be in the different groups is surprising, though given how much the late John Paul II did for the young it should probably not be.

Just from the languages I’m hearing on the streets it seems that the majority of foreign pilgrims are Poles, followed by the French, Spanish and Germans. There also a number of African pilgrims and I’ve spotted a couple of groups of young people from the Philippines. St Peter’s Basilica will be cleared for preparation from 13:00 and much of the area around will be closed. The religious tat sellers are having a field day. John Paul II’s face is everywhere – on posters around Rome – on mugs, flags, T-shirts.

There is no clear figure on the numbers. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apparently expects three million pilgrims while an insider told me Vatican officials are now expecting around two million pilgrims but that it is likely to be closer to 1.25 million pilgrims plus around 250,000 Romans.

At least 16 heads of state are attending the beatification and a Vatican official said that there were 87 delegations from around the world who were taking part in tomorrow’s ceremonies. Five of Europe’s reigning houses will be represented with the Duke of Gloucester fresh from the Royal Wedding, the Spanish Crown Prince Felipe with his wife, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, his wife and hereditary prince, the Prince of Liechtenstein and the King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor flew in from London this morning having attended the Royal Wedding yesterday while Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham and Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds were already in Rome yesterday.

Zimbabwe’s infamous President Robert Mugabe, who once had a stint in a seminary, has also travelled to Rome for the beatification, despite an EU travel ban.

The atmosphere is pretty amazing even though official events don’t start for another eight hours, with tonight’s prayer vigil in the Circo Massimo which will be led by the Vicar General of Rome Cardinal Agostino Vallini.The late pope’s communications director Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valls will be speaking about working with Pope John Paul II, while Sister Marie Simon Pierre, the nun who was miraculously cured through the intercession of the late pope, will also give her testimony. Then eight Roman churches will be open all night for a White Night of Prayer. At 5:30am tomorrow St Peter’s Square will open for pilgrims attending the beatification.
Vatican Radio has released useful numbers for pilgrims, here

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    It all sounds wonderful! I am beginning to reget that I have stayed at home.
    Re the EU travel ban….. Comrade (as he prefers to be known) Mugabe is making use of what is called to “diplomatic corridor” – this entitles him to visit the Vatican and indeed the UN offices in Rome and New York, despite the EU and no doubt US travel ban. Some years ago he was in Rome for a FAO-sponsored conference on world hunger, a subject on which he ought to be well informed. Because he does not get out much these days, he tends to take full advantage of this privelege. He may well end up sitting next to the Duke of Gloucester at the beatification.

  • Anonymous

    Brothers and Sisters, let’s be real about this. It’s disgusting to hold this man up as a Saint, whom shuffled all these abusive Priests from parish to parish around the world for decades ! What is he going to go down as? John Paul 2 – The Patron Saint of Pedophilia? I find this exceptionally disturbing, and I appeal to the Holy See, and to the better angels of our church to see through this complete fraud and call it for what it is ! One has to wonder if this shear a political maneuver to appease the Pols? Have we finally loss all our senses as a people?

  • Anonymous

    The EU should have Robert Mugabe in chains as soon as he steps on European soil.

  • Dcollin

    No Stephen you are wrong. The truth is that these lies about the Pope were conveniently circulated only when those who could effectively refute them were dead. Silence your enemy or wait for him to die. Some of the tricks of the media.

  • AJ

    Brother Stephenreal thanks for your feedback, however there is no office for the saint of pedophilia, so sorry mate maybe we could elect you to start one ’cause you really have any, even an ounce of common sense about this subject of pedophilia in the Church.

    Well, I guess when JPII almost by single handedly (of course by the Grace of Holy Ghost) dismanted Communism in Europe, liberation theology sweeping south america, saw Revival of Faith in Africa and Asia, travelin all over the world bar none to any popes we have known up to the very end of his life TO SPREAD the saving Gospel of God to every man and faith, established Divine Mercy, provided Catechism to have a clear guidance of what Catholics really stand for in this confused world, shelters, food to all that hunger the Word of God and a lot more not enough space in here, Heroic virtue? Oh yes. Great deeds? oh Yes.

    Then how about you Mr. Stephen, have you done ANYTHING lately for your neighbor? So before you remove the splinter in JPII’s eyes remove the LOG in your eyes first so you could see better next time, ok?

  • Mary Ann Richards, O.C.D.S.

    My friend,
    Remember the Word of God which says:

    MARK 2: 16,17
    But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”
    When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

    MATTHEW 5:7
    Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

    John Paul II followed the doctrine of one Man: Jesus Christ who upon the cross said to one of those crucified with him: THIS DAY, YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE!

    Let us watch and wait…
    for Scripture also says…

    MATTHEW 7 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.

    GALATIANS 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
    24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
    25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
    26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


  • Saunders9

    John Paul II was a saint. I’ve been to the Feast of Divine Mercy today; what a wonderful day. Pope John Paul II made Saint Faustina a saint and made sunday after Easter the Feast of Divine Mercy. One may ask if Pope John Paul II would not of become Pope what would of happened to the Papacy? But the Church he was head of it has to be admitted was a time of crisis and we are still in a crisis. But I believe he laid solid foundations for us to come out of this. And I can’t believe Pope John Paul II knew of pedophile priests.

  • Mary Ann Richards, O.C.D.S.

    Let us prayerfully stop and recall the Ministry and the Mission of Jesus Christ.
    What do we know about Our Lord from the Scriptures?

    JOHN 3:17
    For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
    but in order that the world might be saved through him.

    Blessed John Paul II showed us an image of Christ when he met with his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, in Agca’s prison cell in Rome as an act of forgiveness.

    According to a Vatican spokesman, the Pontiff personally intervened with Italian authorities to gain the release and pardon of Mehmet Ali Agca. The Pontiff, speaking to children at a Rome parish on Oct. 10, 1999, said the teachings of Christ instructed him to forgive Agca.

    If Blessed John Paul encountered a pedophile priest, his first order of business was to forgive — not condemn.

    Blessed John Paul did not condon a pedophile priest, teacher, minister, guardian, etc. etc. No such action is ever acceptable nor tolerable. We are commanded, however, to forgive “as we have been forgiven.” Make no mistake, forgiveness is not permissiveness. The Church has never been perfect, but God is perfecting it – even at this moment in time.

    Blessed John Paul carried the sufferings of Christ’s Bride, the Church, everyday of his pontificate. Just look at his countenance! Look at his face! Look at his entire body. The cross is almost visible on his shoulders — if one has eyes to see.

    Jesus said: Blessed are the merciful.

    Perhaps, we need to understand what mercy is all about before we can ever comprehend the Papacy of Blessed John Paul II or, for that matter, the Mission of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior.

    God bless you!

  • Jackie Parkes

    What a horrible post!

  • Anonymous

    You haven’t even begun to understand….
    Your loss.

  • Parasum

    “If Blessed John Paul encountered a pedophile priest, his first order of business was to forgive — not condemn.”

    *If* pedophiles have no moral sense, is forgiveness possible ? How can someone be forgiven who does not acknowledge – who is incapable of acknowledging – that what he is done is sinful ?

    And should not the evil people do be condemned ?

    By all means let there be mercy and compassion – don’t all of us need it ? – but that mustn’t slide into condoning evil, or into calling evil good. If JP2 is to be a model for us to imitate, then there is definitely a place for denouncing evil. And for punishing wrong-doers. Severity is sometimes the only way people can be loved.