Monday 22 December 2014

Faithful gear up for a historic moment

Sarah MacDonald

Published 26/04/2014 | 02:30

Mary Martin and her daughter Aoife, from Swords, who have made the pilgrimage to Rome
Two priests in St Peter’s Square with images of the two popes. Picture: Reuters

Sheena Darcy was born one week after Pope John Paul II left Ireland in October 1979.

"My mum always says she never made it to the Phoenix Park because of me," joked Triona.

The 34-year-old from Artane is one of over 3,000 Irish pilgrims in Rome for the canonisations of John XXIII and John Paul II.

"I am really excited about it. I came here for the beatification in 2011 and people were queueing to get into St Peter's Square from 4.30am. I expect this will be mental too, so I'll watch it on a big screen somewhere in the city." She says John Paul II had a huge impact on her life, starting with the time she spent volunteering at the Vatican's Youth Centre in the Jubilee year 2000. She has also attended four World Youth Days.

She would also love to see Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict concelebrate the Mass for the two popes. "It would be such an historic moment, because Benedict worked so closely for years with John Paul II."

Identical twins Gemma and Triona King (58) are civil servants and they met John Paul II three times. "We literally fell in love with Jesus through John Paul."

They met him in Cardiff and also when Catholic Youth Care organised a pilgrimage of 2,500 young Irish people to Rome in 1981. "He had been shot in May and we went in August.

"We did readings at the Mass and afterwards he gave us a beautiful pair of rosary beads each."

The third time they met him was in 1996.

"He shook our hands and said, 'Oh, twins from Ireland' and he laughed."

Speaking from St Peter's Square in Rome, they told the Irish Independent: "The atmosphere is building up. Everyone is in a fantastic humour. It will be a festival of faith linking heaven and earth."

Irish Independent

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