April 30, 2011.(Romereports.com).
Gianni Vecchio has been cutting hair in Rome since the days that John Paul II was known as Cardinal Wojtyla. Back then, the young cardinal would stop by Gianni's barber shop to get his haircut while he was still in Rome.
Gianni always recalls that he was immediately attracted to the personality of the late pope. Gianni Vecchio
Barber “When I first met him it was a few months before his election to the papacy, I felt very lucky, I don't know how to explain it, but it was so beautiful to have met him. I would cut his hair in a shop where I worked, I already met him a few times before, and I immediately saw his kindness, because he was a great person, very open.”
Gianni keeps photos of John Paul II in his barber shop and is eager to tell his story of how he knew Karol Wojtyla.
He also used to suffer from a herniated disc and was about to go under surgery to repair it, when he says he was miraculously cured by the deceased pope. Gianni says the doctors couldn't explain it and from that moment on he never felt any more pain in his back.
John Paul's beatification has a special meaning for Gianni, and he says like all the other pilgrims, he's been waiting for this day for a long time. Gianni Vecchio
Barber “There will surely be a festive ambiance, because the people are going with a memory of a saint, a person that is no longer with us. But everyone who is going, goes with their own memory of this person, this saint, because John Paul II was a saint. So the people that are going, are only going with the joy to live and be a part of this event that we've all been waiting so long for.”
There will be a large number of pilgrims coming to the beatification from every corner of the world, including many Romans.
Gianni plans on attending the ceremony to remember the life John Paul II and the influence the pope had on his own life. Gianni Vecchio
Barber“I'm going to St. Peter's with everyone else to salute and remember the Holy Father and also to remember his death. I think there is going to be a lot of people, so many people all going with pleasure just to be there.”
Roman and Church authorities have estimated that around one million people will be attending the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's square on May 1.
After the beatification, John Paul II will become a blessed, but for Gianni and many others, the late pope is already a saint.