The upcoming canonizations of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII will be a celebration of two Bishops of Rome who have lived and experienced their faith while becoming messengers of the Gospel.
This was the sentiment expressed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, during a press conference today on the preparations for the April 27 canonizations.
Also present at the press conference were Monsignor Giulio Dellavite, secretary general of the diocesan curia of Bergamo; Monsignor Walter Insero, director of Social Communication for the Vicariate of Rome; and Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office.
Cardinal Vallini told journalists that the preparations are not so much for an event, but rather to ready for a spiritual message.
“It is essentially a spiritual message because it is the feast of sanctity,” the cardinal said. “The relationship that John XXIII and John Paul II had with the Church of Rome, of which they were bishops, was a very close relationship, beginning with the style in which they exercised their ministry; a style of closeness, of welcome, of caring for people, toward man as he is.”
The vicar general of the Diocese of Rome went on to say that the canonizations “are a grace of God," where God presents two men of faith as models of Christian life.
In John XXIII’s native city of Bergamo, the diocese will commemorate him with works of charity to benefit Haiti, Albania and Bergamo. Monsignor Dellavite also stated that the 900 priests of the diocese will donate their stipends for the month to aid families in the city who are in difficulty. In doing so, Monsignor Dellavite noted, they follow John XXIII’s call to deprive oneself in helping others.
The Diocese of Rome is preparing to keep the faithful all over the world informed and involved with the proceedings.
On April 22nd, a youth meeting will take place in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The meeting, which will be presided over by Cardinal Vallini, will also feature addresses from Monsignor Slavomir Oder, postulator for Blessed John Paull II’s cause for sainthood, and Fr. Giovanigiuseppe Califano, postulator for Blessed John XXIII’s cause for sainthood.
On the night before the canonizations, the churches located in the center of Rome will remain open for what Monsignor Insero called a “White Night of Prayer.” The prayer vigil will give pilgrims attending the canonizations the chance to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Eleven churches will be designated for different languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, Polish and Arabic.
Monsignor Insero highlighted the significance of the prayer vigil, saying that it serves as a reminder that the celebrations before the canonizations are not meant to show that the Church produces saints, rather to recognize the saintly lives lived by the Pontiffs. “We want to discover the secret of their sanctity,” he said. The prayer vigil, he added, “is a night of mercy.”
Before concluding his address, Monsignor Insero stated that the Vicariate of Rome will use the web and social media to keep pilgrims and the faithful around the world informed on the canonizations.
The website www.2popesaints.org will be featured in five languages. The Diocese of Rome will also release an app for iPhone and Android, to give users up-to-date logistical information, news and materials on the event.