VATICAN CITY — At a Monday news conference detailing preparations for the canonization of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII, the Holy See announced initiatives designed to help the Church live the event in a spiritual way.
“This is a spiritual event … not just a worldly happening. It is a feast of holiness,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, said March 31 of the Holy See’s preparations for the April canonization of the two late bishops of Rome.
Announced by Pope Francis in September, the canonizations will take place April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Cardinal Vallini expressed that, although we might be used to hearing about saints, these two men are “bishop-popes,” underlining the need to place a special emphasis on their relationship with the Church, given its profundity.
What links the two men together, he observed, is their faith; he noted that they were both models of Christian life and faith and that in the light of this faith they lived their lives in light of “a goal.”
Rather than “busying” themselves with too many events, the cardinal explained that the Diocese of Rome isn’t doing “a lot,” so that the people will be allowed to truly live in the moment and follow the path of a deeper spirituality.
Among the activities slated to occur, Msgr. Walter Insero disclosed there are two key events that will take place in the final days leading up to the Mass of canonization.
Msgr. Insero, who oversees the Diocese of Rome’s communications office, said the first event to take place will be an April 22 gathering for youth at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Beginning at 8:30pm, both Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator for Blessed John Paul II’s cause of canonization, and Father Giovangiuseppe Califano, postulator for Blessed John XXIII’s cause, will be present, along with Cardinal Vallini.
And April 26, there will be an all-night prayer vigil, during which 11 parishes in the center of Rome will be open with the possibility for the faithful to pray and to receive confession in various languages.
Both biblical passages as well as writings from the new saints will be read during the vigil, the communications officer explained.
In addition to these activities, there are also large efforts being made on social media in order to help prepare, with pages for the two blesseds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify, as well as an official website and smartphone application.
Mass of Canonization
Also present at the news conference was Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, who explained that the canonization Mass will begin with the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, followed by the reading of passages from both popes on mercy.
The Mass will take place in St. Peter’s Square, with no tickets required. He noted that both the French nun and the Costa Rican woman who received the miracles needed to move forward with John Paul's canonization will be present.
Following the Mass, St. Peter’s Basilica will be open for pilgrims who want to venerate the saints’ bodies, and the next day, there will be a Mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Square, said by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Regarding the number of pilgrims expected to participate in the event, Father Lombardi stated he had no idea, though “it will be a lot.”
He added that, while it is uncertain, Benedict XVI will likely attend the canonization.
On a final note, Cardinal Vallini expressed that this event is not only for believers, but also for nonbelievers, because “God loves everyone.”