Good Pope John & John Paul the Great have just been canonised. All around the city there were crowds gathered at sites with screens as the area around St Peter’s filled with a million pilgrims. It was a wonderful atmosphere of excitement and prayer. Many slept out overnight amidst fog and threats of rain but in very good spirits. Many streets are closed off and it is was very difficult even for the concelebrating bishops to get near the basilica. Everywhere there were groups singing and praying, with banners or flags, with helicopters overhead, ‘portaloos ‘and security on the ground, all very much like a World Youth Day.
Before we processed out it was good to see my fellow brother Bishop (and formerly from our Diocese), Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin.
Before Mass, we are prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It started to rain lightly but as St John Paul II said on one such occasion, “What does a little rain matter? We are not made of sugar.”
It was a day of four popes, two living here on earth and two declared saints in heaven. Emeritus Pope Benedict joined Pope Francis as Pope John Paul II & Pope John XXIII were proclaimed saints. As Pope Emeritus Benedict joined us and there was a great cheer amongst the constant ringing of bells. There were many heads of state arriving – including the Italian & Polish presidents.
Then the moment came where Pope Francis proclaimed these blesseds as saints, with the relics we were now in the company of two of the greatest men of the 20th century.
In his homily Pope Francis reminded us that these men lived through tragic events of the 20th century but were not overwhelmed by them. That they were Popes who brought us hope and joy.
After Mass finished Pope Francis thanked the many who were involved in the organisation, including the media for allowing people at home to experience the occasion.
I was able to visit and pray at the tombs of Pope St John XXIII and Pope St John Paul. I prayed for you and your intentions.