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The Updated Program of Events for the Beatification Festivities of the Venerable Pope John Paul II



A great ecclesiastical event will happen in Rome from April 30 to May 2, 2011. Our beloved Pope John Paul II will join the rank of the “blessed” in the formal Rite of Beatification, the last step to sainthood. May 1 was chosen for the Beatification proper because it coincides this year (2011) on the feast of Divine Mercy. The Pope has been a zealous promoter of the devotion to the Divine Mercy. He passed away precisely after vespers of the feast of Divine Mercy on April 2, 2005. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope's vicar for the Diocese of Rome, called the long beatification weekend a "spiritual journey". I will certainly miss this event but still I’m providing my avid readers an updated information about the festivities in a “question and answer” fashion .




Q: What is the estimated number of pilgrims expected to attend?
In an earlier report, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has confirmed an initial estimate of over 2.5 million pilgrims and faithful.

In the recent news, only 300,000 pilgrims are expected. It is definitely considered few compared with the two million initially estimated. However, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) justified that approximation depends on how the estimates are made, given that if one counts by individual events there will be some 1.5 million participants.


Q: Is Rome ready for such a BIG event?
Different Vatican institutions and the Italian civil authorities have been collaborating for the Beatification festivities. One of those is the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) which, by the very nature of its office, is specifically tasked to evangelize through pastoral tourism and is in-charge of the ministry of pilgrimage. Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, the ORP chief, assured the skeptics that "Rome is ready to receive all the pilgrims who wish to come. We have places available and in addition there are all the cities on the outskirts of Rome."

Fr. Caesar Atuire, ORP manager, reiterated that "there is no emergency and there are places for everyone."He urged, "Come to Rome; Rome will receive you."

Thousands of pilgrims will definitely put their trust in their words.


Q: Do we need tickets to participate in the three-day Beatification festivities?
NO. The Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, Monsignor Guido Marini, said: “It is very important to make as clear as possible that no tickets are needed, to attend the beatification of John Paul II”. Furthermore, the office in charge of organizing audiences and handles ticketing for all papal events at the Vatican, issued a statement Friday that “tickets are not needed to attend the beatification ceremony”. Tickets will not be necessary to enter the Circus Maximus nor Saint Peter's Square. So, beware of those people selling tickets.


What is the program for the three-day Beatification festivities?
Five events will happen in three days:

April 30, 2011

Ancient Circus Maximus
A. Vigil at the Circus Maximus
There will be an open air vigil organized by the Diocese of Rome to prayerfully dispose oneself in preparation for the Beatification proper on the following day. It will take place on the evening of Saturday, April 30 at the Circus Maximus from 8:00 PM to 10:30 PM. The vigil will be led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the vicar general for the Diocese of Rome.

It is to be divided in two parts. The first is a celebration of the memory of the late pontiff. A choir and orchestra will provide the music as the image of Our Lady of Rome, Maria Salus Populi Romani, is processed into the venue.

Three people who were deeply affected by Pope John Paul II will be present to give their testimonies. His spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, his personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, and the religious sister miraculously healed of Parkinson's disease through his intercession, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, will all speak of the Pope's effect on their lives.

A second moment will be the prayer of the luminous mysteries of the Rosary. The Circus Maximus will be connected by video to five Marian shrines around the world and each of the five decades of the Rosary will be dedicated to an intention held dear by Pope John Paul II.

The Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) will install a video and audio system and a platform which will be connected on the Internet with five shrines around the world. Those taking part in the live video feed include: the sanctuary of Divine Mercy at the Lagniewniki Shrine in Krakow, Poland; the Kawekamo Shrine in Bugando, Tanzania; Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine in Harissa, Lebanon; the Basilica of Holy Mary of Guadalupe in Mexico City; and the Fatima Shrine in Portugal. The prayer intentions will be for the youth, the family, evangelization, hope and peace for nations and the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI will join spiritually through a live video feed. He will lead a final prayer and to impart the apostolic blessing on the faithful.

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican spokesman, said that parishes and Catholic communities everywhere are invited to take part in simultaneous prayer initiatives.

Though the prayer vigil is scheduled to finish at 10:30 p.m., the prayerful preparation and "spiritual journey" will continue through the night. A total of eight parishes will be open through the night to provide places for worship and confession as the faithful make the pilgrimage across the historic city center to St. Peter's Square for the morning beatification ceremony.

Many of the faithful are expected to spend the night under the stars as they await the start of the beatification celebration. The Opera Romana Pelligrinaggi—the agency charged with coordinating the events—will have drinks and snacks available at refreshment stands to keep pilgrims sustained as they wait for the square to open in the early hours of the morning.

May 1, 2011

At 9:00 a.m., the throng of pilgrims will join together in an hour of prayer, beginning with the Divine Mercy Chaplet and finishing with an invocation of mercy over the whole world.

B. Beatification Rites at St. Peter’s Square
Pope Benedict XVI will preside the Beatification rites on May 1 (Sunday) at St. Peter's Square. It will begin at 10am. The police force will open the square to the public in the early morning but the access will be regulated.

The Beatification ceremony will be held within a Eucharistic celebration. There will be the usual proclamation of the newly Blessed, and a reading of a brief summary of the life of John Paul II. After the Pope solemnly proclaimed the newly Blessed, there will be the unveiling of the image, which will hang in front of the Basilica, from the central balcony.

For the enormous turnout - estimated at around 400,000 - there will be 14 "maxi-screens" set up in the square and down the street leading out of it so the faithful can follow along.

There will be 500 priests distributing communion to the faithful in St. Peter's Square and the outer Pius XII Square. Another 300 will be available to offer the Eucharist to those pilgrims who are expected to fill the street leading up to St. Peter's.

Churches around Rome will also offer communion during the beatification Mass for those who seek it.







C. Veneration of the mortal remains of Blessed Pope John Paul II inside
St. Peter’s Basilica



A half hour after the Mass and following a visit from Pope Benedict and the cardinals to render him homage, John Paul II's coffin will be available for veneration within St. Peter's Basilica. It will be placed in front of the High Altar in St. Peter's Basilica for the veneration of the faithful.

It will remain in its place until the last person who wishes to see it has done so. Fr. Lombardi said that this could even mean that visits extend into May 2.


The surrounding areas of Saint Peter's Square will be equipped with giant screens in locations such as the Castel Sant'Angelo, the Via della Conciliazione, the Piazza Risorgimento and other places; they will be managed by 2,500 volunteers.

The coffin containing the remains of John Paul II will remain sealed. It will not be opened.  So ,the faithful will not be able to see the body of John Paul II. It will be placed in the Basilica, before the High Altar, and access will be allowed to pilgrims for a brief moment of prayer. The veneration aims to foster an atmosphere of meditation and prayer. It will continue until everyone in the line has been able to pass through.


May 2, 2011

D. Thanksgiving Mass at St. Peter’s Square

On May 2 (Monday), the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will preside Mass of Thanksgiving at 10:30 am in St. Peter's Square.







E. Reinterment at the Chapel of St. Sebastian
The casket will be reinterred in the Chapel of St Sebastian on the main level of St Peter’s Basilica in a “private” ceremony, which will occur only after the large crowds have stopped coming to pay their respects. So, depending on the number people, this may even happen on either May 1 or 2. Some reports said that it will be after the Thanksgiving Mass.




SUMMARY OF EVENTS

Activities
Date and Time
Place
Presider
Overnight Vigil
April 30, 2011 (Saturday) from 8pm to 10.30pm
Circus Maximus
Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the vicar general for the Diocese of Rome.
Beatification Rites
May 1, 2011 (Sunday) at 10:00 AM
St. Peter’s Square

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
Veneration of the mortal remains of Blessed Pope John Paul II
May 1, 2011 (Sunday) after the Beatification Rites until everyone has venerated.
The High Altar of St. Peter’s Basilica

----
Reinterment of the mortal remains of Blessed Pope John Paul II
May 1 or 2, 2011 (Sunday /Monday) after everyone has venerated the mortal remains
The Chapel of St. Sebastian in St. Peter’s Basilica

[private]
Thanksgiving Mass at St. Peter’s Square
May 2, 2011 (Monday) at 10:30 AM
St. Peter's Square.
The Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone





Q: Will there be a White Night (La Notte Bianca)?

Yes. A White Night is an organized cultural event and entertainment throughout a night. (All lights are on; a sleepless night; hence, the name.). It is often accompanied by an extraordinary service of public transport, the organization of various shows, prolonged opening of shops and museums.

Anyone can travel for free on public transportation (bus, metro, train and tram)  during the three days of events. The metropolitan subway will function 22 hours a day (only closing from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m.).

Parking will be available in areas around Rome. From there the principal means of transportation will be the train. There will also be special parking for people with disabilities.

During which churches and other venues will hand out food packets. Nestle has donated a million bottles of water. The event will be a response that will demonstrate how John Paul II is loved. There might be further instructions on this in the coming days.


Q: Will they provide an Information Kit?
There will be an information kit with routes in the Lazio region related to John Paul II's life and, of course, health care resources.


Q: How about Hotel price inflation?
With regard to the inflated prices of hotels during those days, ORP acknowledged that there will always people who will take advantage of the event "although we have now signed an ethical decalogue with the Hotel Federation, and things are returning to normality."

Father Atuire said that "no one will remain outside for economic reasons and young people who cannot pay for accommodation will have places where they can sleep."

Costs are being kept down by an "ethics card" signed as a contract between organizers and local businesses to keep them honest.

"There is space for everyone and the organization we are putting in place will be able to serve all comers," concluded Fr. Atuire.


Q: Will there be conflict with the concert in honor of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1?
There is no conflict at all with the concert at St. John Lateran. The Beatification ceremony is in the morning and the concert in the afternoon. May 1 is also the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.



Q: Will there be a commemorative stamp?
The Ministry of Development is responsible for a commemorative stamp, and the official launch will be on April 29, together with a medal. Both are based on a photograph of John Paul II taken in 1999.





Q: Will the entrance to the Vatican Museums be free?



NO, but the prices will be reduced. To mark the beatification of John Paul II, the Vatican Museums will stay open between 19.00 and 24.00 on the 26th to the 29th of April and on the 2nd of May (last entrance at 22.00).

These extra special nighttime openings will also see a reduced ticket price available to all visitors able to show some documentation from their local parish, diocese or other religious body. Note that it is not possible to make reservations for these out-of-hours visits online.
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I hope this blog helps you.
Last updated: April 5, 2011

Pilgrims can aid in the preparation process by registering online at www.beatusjpii.org.

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