No disrespect intended……but just wanted to point out what you might expect if you attend the Canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. This has been an interesting few months for Catholic travelers: the resignation of a Pope, the election of a new Pope and then World Youth Day in Brazil. There is no doubt that the eyes of the world will once again turn to Rome on April 27, 2014.
The Good: It is a great blessing and privilege to actually be present for a canonization in Rome. Not to mention the canonization of two Popes…has this ever happened before? Tickets for the Canonization will be scarce but can be requested through the Prefecture of the Papal Household and the good news…tickets are free.
The electric excitement of the crowds is indescribable. Imagine being together with so many fellow Catholics from around the world: happy people from different cultures, different languages, different skin colors, but each enthusiastically sharing the same love for their Catholic faith. Are there even words to describe it? Probably not, but picture this… cheering crowds, vibrantly colored flowers everywhere, Giant TV screens lining Saint Peter’s Square and Saint John Lateran, flapping flags from many nations, Cardinals, priests, religious and an ocean of people as far as you can see, add to an atmosphere that is shroud in holiness and jubilation.
The Bad: It will be crowded…..more than crowded. Did we say crowded? But isn’t that part of the excitement?
If you are traveling independently you must know that hotels will be scarce and I doubt there will be discounts on rooms or any rooms at all for those who don’t act as soon as the date is announced.
Planning to join a group? Tours will book up fast and those who wait too long will probably find themselves disappointed. On the other hand if you sign up with a company before the date is announced you will have to be flexible, since the tour will have to scheduled at that time.
Pope Francis, in his usual concern for the every day folks, does not want it to take place in winter since many buses will be traveling from Poland and the roads will be icy. So our best guess is Spring of 2014.
Also, some companies that don’t usually do Catholic tours will suddenly be putting trips together, so be sure to check their policies and reputation.
The Ugly: Standing outside for hours may be too much for you, long lines of eager pilgrims jostling for the best view, pickpockets will be among the crowds and there will possibly be some price gouging. And you can just bet that many secular news outlets, no friend of the Catholic Church in the first place, will be looking for dissenters among those attending. They will be more than happy to broadcast their “concerns” over the Catholic Church’s stance on women, homosexuals, and the usual list of gripes. And of course they will try to attack the reputation of one or the other of these two holy Popes. That will apply more to those watching from home on TV than those actually at the ceremony but you may run in to some dissenters in the crowd…..
And all this is not really that ugly—we just stole that saying for this post.
So what’s the bottom line? Go if you possibly can!
Sure it will be crowded and you may not get very close to the ceremonies but it is a once in a lifetime happening for most of us. When Saint Juan Diego was canonized in Mexico City, John Paul II rode right by the front of our hotel. We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. That one glimpse was worth the whole trip. The un-planned and unexpected are often some of the best memories.
Ask most people as they get older, and we think they are more likely to tell you that they regret the things they did not do rather than the things they did.