January 17, 2011. Amidst a cheering crowd during the Angelus, the Pope spoke about the coming beatification of John Paul II to be held on May 1. “On 1 May I will have the joy of proclaiming the Venerable Pope John Paul II, my predecessor, as a blessed. The date chosen is very significant because it will, in fact, be the second Sunday of Easter which he himself dedicated to Divine Mercy and on the eve of which his earthly life came to an end.”
Benedict XVI said that this beatification is a source of personal joy to him and to all those who knew John Paul II.
“Those who knew him, those who respected and loved him cannot but share in the Church's joy at this event.”
The beatification of John Paul II will be a historic event, in the last ten centuries no pope has beatified his predecessor. Throughout history 78 popes have been named saints and only 10 are blessed. It's estimated that some two million pilgrims will converge on Rome for the ceremony.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi assured an invitation is not required to attend the ceremony. Everyone traveling to Rome is welcome.
Preparations are already underway in the chapel of St. Peter's Basilica that will host the body of John Paul II before May 1.
Vatican workers are preparing the chapel of Saint Sebastian, which until now has housed the remains of the pope from 1689, Innocent XI.
During the ceremony on May 1, we will also find out what day will be assigned to the liturgical feast of the future Blessed John Paul II.
BR / JMB/ AE