St. Peter's Square four hours prior to the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II
On Saturday before the canonizations of
John Paul II and John XXIII pilgrims from around the world filled the
streets and churches in prayer vigils to prepare for the following
In the early evening as I walked
through Piazza Navona black and white footage of John XIII played on
the screens as young Polish pilgrims, many of whom were small
children when John Paul II died, sat on their backpacks in the square
having an early dinner. There are too many pilgrims to fit in St.
Peter's square so large video screens are set up in piazzas around
Piazza Navona and Polish pilgrims
Further up the square near the fountain
I saw a priest in dark grey habit with a long rosary draped along his
side standing around a bench with a group having wine and cheese.
Behind him another group of Poles walked through the square holding
the red and white Polish flag and singing songs.
Around 10 o'clock I walked around again
and the Piazza Navona was now filled with thousands of Polish pilgrims
gathered with banners and waving flags before the steps of the Church
of St. Agnes (Sant'Agese in Agone) for a vigil mass. It was
impressive to see quiet come over the crowd at the consecration and
to hear the the Our Father in Polish echoing throughout the square.
French pilgrims singing in front of St Louis
At one point as I was walking through
the streets, I heard singing in French. In front of the French church
dedicated to St. Louis, the pilgrims, mostly younger people, were
gathered to pray and sing in the plaza while French flags emblazoned
with the Sacred Heart of Jesus waved overhead. When I came to Rome
for the canonizations, I had expected to see the Poles here--some
estimates said 500 buses were coming. But one thing that has
struck me is the number of French pilgrims throughout the city. After
Italian and Polish, the language I have heard most has been French.
As several people have remarked, there is something happening in the