Pope John Paul II is Blessed

Mon, 05/02/2011 - 03:51

1.5 million pilgrims gathered in Rome Sunday to witness the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

With hotels in the city fully booked, the faithful camped out in the streets surrounding Vatican City or stayed awake through the night for a chance to enter St. Peter’s square.

The crowd stretched out beyond view, and many gathered at Circo Massimo to watch the event broadcast on large screens. On Saturday night, the French nun whom was miraculously cured of Parkinson’s Disease by Pope John Paul II spoke at a candlelight vigil held in the same location.

The late pontiff himself suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, passing away at the age of 84 on 2 April 2005. At his funeral, millions of mourners chanted "Santo Subito!" or "Saint now!"

"The longed-for day has come," said Benedict. "It came quickly because this was pleasing to the Lord. John Paul II is blessed."

The Polish pontiff’s coffin was moved to St. Peter’s Basilica and placed at the Altar of Confession, where Pope Benedict XVI was the first to pray before it.

Today, the coffin will move to its permanent location in the Chapel of St Sebastian.

"Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world,” said Pope Benedict XVI, in honor of his blessed predecessor.