ROME, OCT. 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Organizers for the canonization of Blessed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer are expecting 230,000 pilgrims from 84 countries to attend.
According to the Organizing Committee, 40% of the pilgrims who will be in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday are young people. They will stay in camping sites, sports centers, parishes and other similar premises in and around Rome.
Non-Italian groups were already arriving Tuesday, among them 500 Japanese. Thirty people are traveling from Russia, including Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. They are driving from St. Petersburg, Moscow and Rostov.
More than 10,000 pilgrims will attend from the Mediterranean area, for instance, from Marseilles, Barcelona, Palermo, Valencia, Corsica and Malaga. They will travel to Rome in eight ships, which will be anchored in Civitavecchia. They will live on the ships and travel to St. Peter’s by train.
Among the African participants are 180 people from Congo. After the canonization, the Congolese group, together with participants from other countries, will pray for peace in their country during a thanksgiving Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, next Wednesday morning.
Some 5,000 people from the United States are traveling to Rome for the canonization. Among them is Michigan’s “Kitchen Queen” rock group, which organized a concert this past summer to collect funds for the travel expenses of Central Americans who will attend the event.
The Swedish contingent includes 31 members of the Stockholm Cathedral choir. This choir, along with 35 others, will participate in the canonization ceremony and in the thanksgiving Masses during the subsequent days.
From Madrid, the diocese in which Blessed Escrivá founded the Opus Dei on Oct. 2, 1928, several thousand people will travel to Rome. Some of them will be part of a diocesan pilgrimage led by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid.
It is now virtually impossible to get a flight from Spain to Rome for the canonization, as all tickets have been reserved.
Some 950 Roman families will offer accommodation in their homes to faithful who cannot afford a hotel.
Pilgrims will be received and assisted by 1,850 young volunteers, including non-Catholics. There will be 40 first-aid teams, five medical posts, nine large video screens installed along the Via della Conciliazione, from St. Peter’s Square to Castel Sant’Angelo. Thousands of police will be on duty during the ceremony.
Mayor Walter Veltroni of Rome said a special coin will be issued to mark the occasion. Italian post offices have issued a special stamp dedicated to Blessed Escrivá.