| Vatican, Rome
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VATICAN CITY — Just over five weeks before the canonizations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, Rome hotels are reporting they are almost fully booked and the Vatican has confirmed the Mass will take place in St. Peter's Square, despite knowing that hundreds of thousands of people will have to watch the ceremony on large video screens.
Pope Francis had announced in late September that he would proclaim the two popes saints in a single ceremony April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Less than two weeks after the date was announced, the Prefecture of the Papal Household issued an advisory that access to St. Peter's Square would be first-come, first-served and warned pilgrims that unscrupulous tour operators already were trying to sell fake tickets to the Mass.
(The Diocese of Oakland will join in the celebration of the canonizations with a Mass in Thanksgiving for the canonization at 5:30 p.m. April 26.)
With perhaps more than 1 million people expected to try to attend the liturgy, rumors abounded that the Vatican would move the ceremony to a wide-open space on the outskirts of town. But the Vatican confirmed Feb. 27 that the Mass would be held in St. Peter's Square, just outside the basilica where the mortal remains of the two rest.
Blessed John Paul, known as a globetrotter who made 104 trips outside Italy, served as pope from 1978 to 2005 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011. Blessed John XXIII, known particularly for convoking the Second Vatican Council, was pope from 1958 to 1963; Pope John Paul beatified him in 2000.
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