Mexico Bracing for What Could Be the Largest Mass in History

5 Million May Attend Canonization of Juan Diego

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MEXICO CITY, MARCH 1, 2002 ( Juan Diego´s canonization on July 30 might become the largest Mass in Mexican history, archdiocesan sources of Mexico City told ZENIT.

According to estimates of the apostolic nunciature reported in the international news agencies, some 5 million people are expected to attend — which could make it the largest Mass in history.

The Holy Father will travel to Mexico at the end of Toronto´s World Youth Day. He is scheduled to preside over the proclamation of sanctity of the Indian who witnessed the apparitions of Guadalupe in 1531.

The ceremony will be held in 1,000 hectares (2,400 acres) in the municipalities of Ecatepec and Texcoco, on the outskirts of Mexico City.

John Paul II presided over the largest Mass in history, during the World Youth Day, in Manila in January 1995. Some 4 million to 5 million people attended that Mass.

The above total might be surpassed July 30 because of the estimated 20 million people who live in and around Mexico City. Mexico has about 90 million baptized Catholics, or 90% of the population.

During his visit, the Holy Father will beatify two other lay Indians, martyred in 1700. Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles, both fathers of families, were killed in the state of Oaxaca. Dominican missionaries asked the two Indians to help in the care of churches and in safeguarding the purity of the Christian faith they received.

While carrying out these responsibilities, the two Indians were killed in San Francisco Cajonos, Diocese of Antequera. The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the beatification decree last July 7.

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