The latest estimate is 3 million pilgrims will attend Sunday’s canonisation.
An ad hoc plan was devised for Saturday and Sunday for Rome’s public transport, with metro (lines A and B) running non-stop from Saturday to Monday – something never seen before in the city.
Fourteen large screens have been set up in various areas of the city (3 in Via Fori Imperiali, 2 in Piazza Pio XII, 4 in Via della Conciliazione, 1 in Largo Giovanni XXIII, 4 in the pedestrian area and gardens of Castel Sant’ Angelo, 1 in Piazza Navona [for Polish language pilgrims], 1 in Piazza Esquilino – Santa Maria Maggiore, 1 in Piazza Farnese [for the French speaking pilgrims] and 1 at the Leonardo Da Vinci Terrazza Roma Airport in Terminal 3).
A large area around the Vatican will be cordoned off from traffic from Saturday evening, and trains will not be stopping at the railway station San Pietro on Sunday.
Rome’s waste disposal service has a task force to guarantee the cleanliness of the city this weekend. Twenty fixed facilities and about 980 chemical toilets, 439 in the area around St. Peter’s (among which, 66 for the disabled) and 541 in outlying areas, have been put in place.
2,630 civil protection volunteers will give assistance to the police and to the pilgrims during the events which will be held throughout the city. For the volunteers there is the task of distributing to the faithful about 150 thousand booklets for the liturgy and 4 million bottles of water.
Sunday’s ceremony will also be remembered for the presence of two living popes. 24 heads of state are expected, between presidents and sovereigns, 11 prime ministers and governors. For Italy, beyond the head of state, Giorgio Napolitano and the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, about 200 parliamentarians will be present. The royal family of Spain is also expected in Saint Peter’s Square.
The city of Rome, Opera Romana Pilgrimages and the Chamber of Commerce, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises for tourists and pilgrims, has styled a ten commandments against theft which will be distributed in the city and is available at their site www.turismoroma.it.
The text indicates how pilgrims can defend themselves from the vices of some businesses. For example: in Italy tipping is appreciated but not obligatory; providing a receipt is obligatory; purchased merchandise can be returned within a few days; it is obligatory to display the price of merchandise and food; at a restaurant you can also order a single course alone.
Scams are behind the corner and even on the web, where unknowing pilgrims have purchased tickets to assist at the celebrations on Sunday, only to find out from the diocese that access to the square is free.
Pilgrims are warned that the intense media attention has attracted criminality and they should look out for rogue vendors and sales of counterfeit gadgets and goods. The police have already sequestered images of the Popes Roncalli, Wojtyla, and Bergoglio, rosaries, holy cards and even the “Misericordina”, medicine for the soul—holy card and rosary in a medicine container.
With such a concentration of people, a plan of medical assistance has also been put in place. In the most frequented areas there will be 14 advanced medical centers; 35 ambulances for serious trauma; 44 basic ambulances; 3 maternal centers; and 1 center for medical examinations.
Italian media say a strike by a union of city policemen, OSPOL, because of salary cuts means some security staff will stay at home on Sunday – a consequence of the city being on the edge of bankruptcy, reports say.
On Twitter the virtual canonization has begun with the hashtags #2popesaints #canonizzazione and someone being ironic about the invasion of the faithful: Romastaiserena (Rome be calm).