Rome set for ‘day of four popes’
It has been named “the day of the four popes”, an unprecedented occasion in the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church.
It promises to be the biggest Vatican event since millions of pilgrims descended on St Peter's Basilica for the funeral of John Paul II in 2005.
This morning, under the gaze of a billion Catholic faithful around the world, the Polish pontiff will be made a modern-day saint, along with one of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII, nicknamed ‘the Good Pope’, who presided over crucial reforms to the Catholic Church during the Sixties.
The ceremony will be led by Pope Francis, 13 months into his own ground-breaking papacy, and will be attended by 87-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has rarely ventured out of a seclusion since last year becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to step down.
Rome has been preparing for months. Some 20 giant screens have been set up around the city to relay the ceremony in multiple languages to those unable to squeeze into St Peter's Square; millions of Catholics are pouring in from around the world; more than 4,000 coaches are converging on the capital from across Europe and special flights have been laid on.