The Day After #2popesaints

Yesterday, April 27th, Pope Francis proclaimed two of his predecessors, John XXIII and John Paul II, saints in front of more than half a million pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, for the occasion.

The two canonized popes are widely considered as representing contrasting faces of the Church, but Pope Francis hailed both as courageous men who withstood the tragedies of the 20th century, hoping to draw the world's 1.2 billion Catholics closer together. 

The Mass was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who last year became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down, and was greeted twice by Francis during the ceremony. His attendance gave the ceremony a somewhat surreal atmosphere created by the presence of a reigning pope, a retired pope and two dead popes buried in the basilica. On Twitter, both pilgrims and members of the church posted comments and pictures using hashtags like #2popes, #2popesaints or #4popes.  

The crowd stretched back along Via della Conciliazione, the half-kilometer boulevard that starts at Piazza Pia, along the Tiber River. After the ceremony, St. Peter's Square and the surrounding area were covered in trash left behind by thousands of pilgrims. Rome employed over 400 operators and 150 special vehicles to clean as soon as the ceremony ended, so the area is already back to normal. However, the pictures of the streets after the event published by La Repubblica are quite impressive. Here are some of the most interesting...