Rome gripped by sainthood fever
Published 28/04/2011 | 05:00
As the Vatican prepares to elevate the late pontiff one step closer to sainthood this Sunday, Rome has been caught up in beatification fever.
The city is festooned with posters of Pope John Paul II, his face even appears on buses and lamp posts. It is expected that one of the largest crowds since his funeral in 2005 will gather to pay tribute in the Italian capital.
At least several hundred thousand people are expected at the Mass in St Peter's Square, where his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, will declare one of the most popular popes a "blessed" of the Church.
The haste of John Paul's beatification is unprecedented in modern times, taking place six years and one month after his death in April 2005.
Some have disputed the legitimacy of the ceremony and say it has been rushed.