April 4, 2011.
Rome is finalizing preparations for the beatification of John Paul II. According to official sources 300,000 people are coming so far. But there is still room in the Eternal City for more. The city's hotel occupancy is currently at 80%. There are two camping areas just outside of Rome, available at very low price. Given the increase in room rates, hotels have pledged to ensure "high quality and no speculation on room rates."
Bishop Cesare Atuire
Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (Rome)"When announcing a beatification or an event like this, some hotels run and fill up with abstract numbers. Then comes the reality, like what is happening now, and the estimates do not match what they thought. So we are talking with the hotels to see what is the actual availability and to develop a unique backup system with reasonable prices so that there is room for everyone."
The Italian State is not going to pay for the beatificaation, so there have been special financing efforts by the beatification organizers. They have opened a checking account number and asked for the collaboration of various companies.
The money left over will go to build a soup kitchen in the Termini station. Bishop Cesare Atuire
Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (Rome)"In the collection of funds that is being done by Monsignor Andreatta, it is expected that if some money is left over, it will go to a soup kitchen for the poor in Termini station."
The events begin on April 29 with the presentation of the stamp and the medal commemorating the beatification of John Paul II.
On Saturday, April 30th, there will be a prayer vigil at the Circus Maximus. It will be presided over by Cardinal Agostino Vallini. Benedict XVI will attend the event via videoconference. Also connected via satellite will be pilgrims at 5 shrines of the Virgin Mary around the world. The area churches will remain open overnight.
The beatification ceremony will take place on May 1, presided over by Benedict XVI. St. Peter's Square will open at 3 am and will remain open until full capacity is reached. Along the Via della Conciliazione, Castel Sant'Angelo and Piazza del Risorgimento and within the churches in the area will be installed giant screens so the ceremony can be seen from a distance.
After the beatification Mass, the remains of John Paul II will be on display in St. Peter's Basilica, which will remain open for the flow of pilgrims to visit.
The beatification will be a historic event. It has been the fastest beatification process in modern history, and it will be the first time a pope has been beatified his successor.