Vigil for the beatification at Rome's Circus Maximus begins
Almost there, everything is in place for the Beatification of John Paul II by Pope
Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy Sunday, which this year falls on May 1st.
And at the venue for the Vigil , Rome's Circus Maximus, the crowds are soaking
up the atmosphere.
Vigils have a special significance: they are symbolic of
a gift to the Church : in this case represented by the forthcoming beatification
of the Servant of God , John Paul II.They are also a moment of reflection and prayer,
one of communion of the local diocese gathered together on this occasion around
the Vicar General for the diocese of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, on the eve
of the beatification of their much loved former Bishop of Rome.
will have two main moments to it: one dedicated to highlighting the memory of the
future blessed and another more specifically to prayer, John Paul II’s favourite
prayer: the Rosary.
Turning then to the first part of the evening vigil :
among those scheduled to share their personal testimonies are two of the Polish
Pontiff’s closest collaborators and advisors : his former Secretary Staniswaf Dziwisz,
now cardinal, and his press officer for many years, Joaquin Navarro Valls. But also
the French woman whose miraculous recovery from Parkinson’s disease attributed to
the intercession of John Paul II allowed the beatification process to enter into
its final stages. Her name Sr Marie Simon- Pierre.,
They’ll be doing this
in the presence of representatives from Roman parishes, as well as chaplaincies
from the diocese . Let’s recall for a moment, how attentive John Paul II always was,
to his role as Bishop of Rome. So much so that in the course of his pontificate there
was hardly a Roman parish he had not visited.
As they speak, projectors will
relay on to the giant screens , images of John Paul II but also of the ancient icon
of Our Lady of Salus Populi Romani, housed within the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
A pointer to the special devotion to Our Lady of John Paul II, also echoed in
the choice of the hymn chosen to put an end to the first part of this vigil : the
'Totus Tuus', composed for the 50th anniversary of John Paul II’s priestly
The second part of the vigil will be dedicated in a special way
to Prayer, specifically to the Mysteries of Light , the five new mysteries Pope John
Paul II added to the traditional 15, when he published his encyclical letter on the
Rosary, ' Rosarium Virginis Mariae'. Each of these Mysteries of light is a revelation
of the Kingdom now present among us in the person of Jesus . They are: Our Lord’s
Baptism , the Wedding at Cana , the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God , the Transfiguration
and the Institution of the Eucharist.
This particular moment will be marked
by the hymn “ Open your doors to Christ “, a reminder of John Paul II’s invitation
to us not be afraid and open our doors to Christ. And then echoing this openness,
the recitation of these mysteries will then take place with live link ups to five
Marian shrines across the world, each of these dedicated to a specific theme . Beginning
with youth in Poland at the Shrine of Lagniewniki in Kracow a place both familiar
and dear to the Polish Pontiff as it’s from here that Saint Faustina Kowalska spread
her message of divine mercy . And then in the following order : the family at the
Shrine of Kawekamo Tanzania , evangelization at the Shrine of Our lady of Lebanon
in Harissa, peace at the Shrine of Sancta Maria de Guadalupe in Mexico City and finally,
the Church at the Portuguese Shrine of Fatima, so especially significant to John
You may be wondering where the present Bishop of Rome , Pope Benedict
is in all this ? Well he’ll be taking part in the Vigil of course, with a prayer
and a final blessing from the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, projected on to
bumper screens across Rome.
But while the Vigil ends with the notes of the
Salve Regina as the ancient Roman arena comes alive with the flickering lights of
the candles held by the faithful, those who wish can continue their vigil by walking
into the night , making their way towards the Vatican in prayer and meditation .
Stopping by along the way at eight churches that will open wide their doors. They
are: Santa Anastasia, San Bartolomeo on the Tiber Island , San Marco in Piazza
Venezia, Santissimo Nome di Gesù in Piazza di Torre Argentina , Sant Andrea della
Valle, Sant Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona, Santa Maria in Valicella and prior
to crossing the Tiber, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. And in these Churches they’ll
receive a welcome from the young Catholics of Rome and from the priests on hand
to impart for the Sacrament of Reconciliation .