Facing the Heat, to Accommodate the Crowds

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II decided to face a common summertime trait of Rome: its oppressive heat.

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When the city’s humid heat becomes unbearable, the midweek general audience usually takes place in Paul VI Hall. But since the 13,000 or so pilgrims who gathered today would not fit in the auditorium, the Pope agreed that the audience should be held outside, in St. Peter’s Square.

Subsequently, the intense heat forced some pilgrims to leave the square.

John Paul II had to drink water four times to be able to continue. He spoke in eight languages, and stayed in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica, under the sun, to personally greet dozens of pilgrims.

Among those attending the audience were the 44 metropolitan archbishops, accompanied by their relatives and friends. On Tuesday the archbishops received the pallium from the Pope.

John Paul II is scheduled to leave Rome next Monday to spend his vacation in the Italian Alps.

On his scheduled return July 17, the Holy Father will stay in the cooler papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome, where the Wednesday general audiences will be held as well as the Sunday meetings to pray the Angelus.

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