In the early hours of Divine Mercy Sunday, hours before the Mass and Rite of Canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II was to begin, the streets of Rome had already been flooded with pilgrims hoping to make it into the square.
Via Conciliazione, flowing out from the colonnades of St Peter’s Square, had been marked as the only entry point, scheduled to open at 5.30am. Yet, long before sunrise there was barely a hope left for anyone who hadn’t yet made it to the queue, which stretched back toward the Tiber River.
One might assume only the young and carefree would be mad enough to battle the cold, drizzly night, and even worse, the raucous mob of Catholics. But be assured everyone was represented– from young families with babes in arms to religious sisters well on in years and as desperate as anyone to be at the center of this moment in history. While some had been in the streets since the previous afternoon, others had found refuge in one of the many churches around St Peters that opened their doors for those wishing to keep vigil. For those not bold enough to attempt the square 17 giant screens had been erected at venues across the city.
It was a significant moment to say the least: two 20th Century popes enrolled among the canon of saints. Both were recent enough to have personally touched many of those present, and both had undeniably changed the world forever.
In this special report we speak with Dom and Phoebe (16 and 14 respectively) from Melbourne, Lamar (25) from New Orleans and Polish Journalist Jarek who were all present in St Peter’s Square for the Canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II. They share what the historic event meant for them, and their own connections with the saintly popes.
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