VATICAN CITY — Today is a public holiday in Italy: Shops are closed, parking spaces are plentiful, and Rome is unusually quiet.
It’s the calm before the storm of festivities for the historic canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday.
Over the past few weeks, the city has been hard at work repairing roads, sprucing up major thoroughfares and sealing off areas around the Vatican. A steady flow of pilgrims has been arriving all week, with the largest number coming from Poland. Five trainloads, 1,700 buses and 58 chartered planes of pilgrims have been arriving from John Paul II’s native land, as well as many others travelling from Bergamo, Italy, home to John XXIII.
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