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BY Edward Pentin
Reflecting the festive mood in Rome ahead of the imminent canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, the official website on the event, 2popesaints, has released this upbeat video with the soundtrack of the recent hit single 'Happy' by singer and producer Pharrell Williams.
The video is made by young Romans and was mostly filmed in the parish of San Giovanni Battista de Rossi in the Appio-Latino suburb of southeast Rome. It's directed by Maila Paone, edited by Raffaele Pannozzo and is the idea of Chiara Romanzo, Alberto Acuri, Francesca Vertisano, Giorgia Giacomini.
It also features Don Stefano Cascio, a young priest of the parish who has done much to help bring young people back to church.
Rome authorities have been hard at work preparing for what could be the largest crowds the city has ever seen. The interior ministry expects the April 27 double canonization, presided by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square, to draw 800,000 pilgrims from all over the world, but others predict far higher numbers, possibly as many as 7 million.
An enormous contingent of pilgrims from John Paul II’s native Poland is expected, as well as significant numbers from the Lombardy region of northern Italy, the birthplace of John XXIII.
The Vatican says 19 heads of State will be attending as well as 24 prime ministers from 61 official delegations, representing 54 countries. Tickets are not required but seats will be difficult or near impossible to find and many are expected to camp out overnight to obtain the best places.
City authorities are visibly in full swing, already cordoning off major streets such as the Fori Imperiali that leads up to the Colosseum, repainting road markings and erecting 14 large screens in key areas all across the city. Security will also be tight: Italy’s interior minister has said 2,430 police units have been drafted in to carry out checks and patrol sensitive targets.
Meanwhile, Rome’s many hotels are preparing for one of their best business weekends in years. Most rooms are sold out, and at least one hotel near the Vatican is charging as much as $900 for one night during the canonization weekend.
But despite the logistical challenges, Rome is well practiced in hosting such enormous events and tends to manage them well. Thousands of volunteers will join the protezione civile – Italy’s main body dealing with the management of exceptional events.
Rome's mayor, Ignazio Marino, said last week the city is "ready, very ready" for the impending arrival of thousands of pilgrims.