DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     March 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 51

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) - The beatification of Padre Pio, scheduled for May 3, 1999, will provide an early test of plans to accommodate the many thousands of pilgrims who are expected to flood Rome during the Jubilee year.

          Organizers at the Vatican expect roughly 1 million people to arrive in the Eternal City for the beatification of the famed Capuchin monk, who died in 1968 after gaining a wide following all around the world.

          Only about 150,000 people will be able to fit into St. Peter's Square for the beatification ceremony: 50,000 in the available seats, and another 100,000 standing in the Square. Others will be able to watch the ceremony on huge video screens, which will be erected along the Via de la Conciliation, which leads from St. Peter's to the Tiber.

          Although the supply of tickets for the beatification has already been exhausted, the Capuchin organizers of the ceremony are still being flooded with requests. Those requests have come not only from Italy itself, but also from "Padre Pio prayer groups" in European countries such as Switzerland, Austria, and Ireland; and more remote places like Australia, Chile, and Uruguay. Italian vendors are already preparing various souvenirs of the beatification, such as posters and images of Padre Pio, for sale to the visiting pilgrims.

          Italian people who ask for tickets to the ceremony are now being advised by the organizers to follow the television broadcast of the beatification. The organizers are studying the possibility of installing video screens at various locations around Rome, in particular in a large space in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. That location is the site of a concert planned for May 1, and the organizers have arranged that video screens will be erected for the concert and left in place for the beatification. After presiding at the beatification, the Vatican has announced the Pope John Paul will travel to St. John Lateran to greet pilgrims there and lead them in the recitation of the Angelus.

          Also, the corps of volunteers recruited by the Central Committee for the Jubilee to serve as guides for pilgrims in the year 2000 will be mobilized for the first time for Padre Pio's beatification. At least 2,000 of these volunteer guides will be on hand for the ceremonies, dressed in their distinctive blue uniforms. (There will be 54,000 guides on the job during the Jubilee Year.)

          Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, says that he expects the beatification ceremony to run smoothly. "Everything will work out serenely," he told reporters. "We are all profoundly happy about the beatification of Padre Pio, and I am sure everyone will be happy when it happens."

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

March 15, 1999       volume 10, no. 51


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