Rome Readies For Canonizations Of John XXIII, John Paul II

The two banners of the two soon-to-be saints now hang on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the final countdown toward the highly anticipated canonizations has begun.

With just one day to go before the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, the stream of pilgrims into Rome continues.

Civil security forces are in position, city roads have been closed to traffic and the subway system will run nonstop this weekend to accommodate the influx of pilgrims.

Authorities expect about one million people to gather in the square and along the Via della Conciliazione, which leads up to St. Peter’s Basilica, for the Mass itself. Thousands of others instead will gather in about a dozen or so public squares around the city, where the Mass will be projected onto big screens.

Here at the Vatican, the last of the preparations are underway, as hundreds more journalists have swamped the city with their cameras and microphones.

At a press conference on Friday, the two cardinals who lived and worked for the future saints as their secretaries said they knew their bosses were saints because of their simple faith and goodness.

Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who served as Blessed John's secretary for 10 years, told reporters via video link of John XXIII’s “smile, innocence and goodness.”

"Saints,” the 98-year-old cleric said, "are those who remain children”, maintaining always a youthful energy and enthusiasm as they follow the path God sets out for them.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served as Blessed John Paul's secretary for 39 years, told reporters John Paul “prayed with his life” and his holiness was also evident in his “holy suffering” throughout his life, never complaining and offering his suffering as a prayer for the world.

As he aged and weakened, the Polish cardinal said, Pope John Paul became more intent on preparing for a holy death because he always had believed that " death … would be a person's greatest moment of encounter (with) the Lord."

On Friday, the Vatican also issued the official prayer cards for the two saints.

Back on the streets of Rome, pilgrims continue to take in the holy sites and look into preparing for the rain meteorologists have forecast for Sunday morning.

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