Faithful hold a banner reading in latin Totus tuus (Totally yours) during a thanksgiving Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Monday. Tens of thousands of Catholic faithful have filled St. Peter’s Square for a Mass of thanksgiving for the beatification of John Paul II. The Mass is being celebrated by the Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Among the large crowds entering the square Monday were many Poles overjoyed at Sunday’s beatification of the Polish-born pontiff. After Sunday’s beatification, about 250,000 faithful filed past John Paul’s simple wooden coffin in St. Peter’s Basilica.
VATICAN – The BBC’s Duncan Kennedy, who is in Rome, said John Paul II’s coffin would be moved to a more prominent place. The late Pope, John Paul II, has been beatified at a ceremony at the Vatican in front of hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful. Among those at St Peter’s Square is French nun Marie Simon-Pierre, who says she was cured of Parkinson’s Disease.
Her apparently miraculous cure is part of the case for the beatification, the last stage before sainthood. It comes amid criticism of the Church for the speed of the beatification and the clerical child sex abuse scandal.
Much of the abuse occurred while John Paul II was Pope, from 1979-2005, and the Church has been criticised for not doing enough to punish those found responsible.
Police in Rome estimated that one million people had come to the city for the event, including large numbers of pilgrims from the late Pope’s native Poland.
St Peter’s Square, in the Vatican, was packed, with the faithful waving banners and flags as Pope Benedict XVI declared his predecessor blessed, or beatified.
Rome has not seen crowds of this size since the death of Pope John Paul II six years ago when some three million pilgrims converged on the Italian capital, says the BBC’s Vatican correspondent David Willey.
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe was among those attending the beatification.
A Roman Catholic, he was given special permission by the EU to fly to Italy despite being the subject of a travel ban.
The presidents of Poland and Mexico are also among some 90 heads of state and other dignitaries attending the beatification.
St Peter’s Square was transformed for the occasion with a giant video screen showing Pope John Paul II’s life story and a massive photograph hung from the white colonnades.
The late pontiff’s coffin was exhumed from the crypt below St Peter’s Basilica to be placed in front of the altar. After the Mass, it will be moved to a different part of the basilica.