ROME, April 17 (UPI) -- The mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, declared his city “very ready” for the Apr. 27 Vatican canonization ceremonies at which Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints of the Catholic Church.
The observances in St. Peter’s Square are expected to draw 800,000 people from all over the world, the Italian interior ministry said, as well as 19 heads of state and 24 prime ministers. It added 61 official delegations, from 54 countries, will be represented.
The only issue left to be resolved is that of buses arriving in Rome with pilgrims. “We are expecting 2,000 coaches (buses) to arrive, while only 500 have registered,” Marino said.
Rome is in the midst of a media mania of sorts for Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005. A theatrical play based on his life, “Karol Wojtyla, the Opera Musical,” opened in Rome Tuesday before traveling to his native Poland. Celebrities in designer clothes mixed with priests at the theater in an event typical of opening-night glamour and excitement.
It is one of three new musicals dedicated to John Paul II, an accomplished playwright and actor in his youth.
“We gave him the opportunity to get back on a theater stage,” Patrizia Barsotti, one of the show’s writers, said.
[ANSA] [NBC News]