VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Pilgrims arriving to Rome are looking forward to three days of events surrounding Sunday's beatification of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005 at the age of 84 of complications associated with Parkinson's.
The Vatican press office held a press conference today to review the final details of the events, which begin Saturday with a vigil to take place in the Circus Maximus, presided over by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, and organized by the Diocese of Rome.
Monsignor Marco Frisina, director of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Vicariate of Rome, revealed that the Choir of the Diocese of Rome will perform, as will the Orchestra of the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, which he will conduct. The choir of the Philippine community in Rome and the Gaudium Poloniae Choir will perform two traditional pieces.
Brief films detailing key moments of the pontificate will be shown, Monsignor Frisina said, adding that "through images we will also relive the last months of the pontificate of John Paul II, which were marked by his suffering."
Several figures close to John Paul II will offer their testimonies: Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, who was the Polish Pontiff's personal secretary; Joaquín Navarro Valls, Vatican spokesman during John Paul II's pontificate; and Sister Marie Simon Pierre, who was miraculously cured from Parkinson's, and whose miracle was used in the cause of beatification.
At the end of the first part "Totus tuus" will be sung, a song composed for the 50th anniversary of Karol Wojtyła's priestly ordination.
During the second part of the vigil, Cardinal Vallini will reflect on the spiritual and pastoral personality of John Paul II. Then the mysteries the Polish Pope added to the rosary -- the luminous mysteries -- will be prayed, with a simultaneous video-connection to five Marian shrines: in Krakow, Tanzania, Lebanon, Mexico, and Fatima.
Each of the mysteries will be tied to a prayer intention of importance to John Paul II: at the sanctuary of Lagiewniki in Krakow, Poland, the intention will be for the youth; at the sanctuary of Kawekamo, Bugando, Tanzania, the intention will be for the family; at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico, the intention will be for hope and peace among nations; at the sanctuary of Fatima, the intention will be for the Church.
Benedict XVI, who will participate through a video connection, will recite the final prayer and impart the apostolic blessing to all the participants.
That night, eight churches will be open along the path that leads from the Circus Maximus to St. Peter's, in what Father Watler Insero, director of the Office of Social Communications of the Vicariate of Rome, called a "white night" of prayer.
"After the Vigil in Circo Massimo, beginning at 11:30 p.m.," he said, "it will be possible to continue praying until dawn in eight churches in the city center that are found on the journey from Circo Massimo to St. Peter's Basilica: Santa Anastasia, San Bartolomeo all'Isola, Santa Agnese in Agone (in Piazza Navona, which will be led by a group of Polish youth), San Marco al Campidoglio, Santissimo Nome di Gesu all'Argentina, Santa Maria in Vallicella, San Andrea della Valle, and San Giovanni dei Fiorentini."
"The Roman youth, serving as hosts of this evening of faith, will greet the pilgrims, inviting them to enter the churches and join in the prayers," he continued. "During the night, in keeping with the common format adopted by the churches involved, there will be an alternation of the various following moments programmed: the reading of and meditation on the Word of God; silence and Eucharistic adoration; and the reading of some texts that John Paul II addressed to the youth.
"There will also be testimonials from some young persons, songs performed by youth groups, and the recitation of the Rosary and Divine Mercy Devotion. In these eight churches ... many priests will be available to hear confessions."
Father Walter Insero also announced that Caritas' soup kitchen for the poor and service center at Termini Station will be dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. It is "a sign of love offered by the Diocese of Rome to recall her beloved bishop and his pastoral concern for the poorest of the poor."
Mass and veneration
The second event is the Mass of beatification in St. Peter's Square on May 1 at 10:00 a.m. presided over by Benedict XVI. For an hour preceding the Mass, there will be prayer, including the Divine Mercy chaplet, which was introduced by St. Mary Faustina Kowalska.
The preparation will conclude with an invocation to the Mercy of God in the world, with the hymn "Jezu ufam tobie" (Jesus, I trust in you).
The readings at the beatification Mass will follow the readings of the Sunday after Easter. The Eucharist will be distributed in St. Peter's Square by 500 priests and 300 others will do so along the Via della Conciliazione.
It will be possible to go to Communion in churches connected with screens to follow the Mass. Fourteen giant screens will be installed along the Via della Conciliazione and adjacent areas.
At the end of the rite of beatification, the Pope will pronounce the formula of beatification and the image of the new blessed will be unveiled. At the end of the Mass, a reliquary of John Paul II will be brought to the altar for the veneration of all the faithful.
Afterward, the veneration of John Paul II's remains will begin in St. Peter's Basilica, and will continue until everyone in the line has been able to pass through.
The third event is a Mass of thanksgiving on May 2, which will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square by the Pontiff's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The Mass will be preceded by an hour of recitation of John Paul II's poetry performed by two actors, Dariusz Kowalski of Poland and Pamela Villoresi of Italy.
Monsignor Frisina revealed that the readings will be interspersed with symphonic pieces performed by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome with the participation of the Choir of Warsaw and the Symphonic Orchestra of the Radio of Katowice, Poland. Soprano Ewa Izykowska will also perform.
The celebration will culminate with the singing of the Regina Coeli.