Logistical facts and figures released ahead of weekend canonisation

(Vatican Radio) No one is quite sure just how many pilgrims will be arriving in Rome for this weekend’s canonisation of the two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II. But at a briefing on Wednesday morning, officials from the Diocese of Rome, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi and Rome's City Council provided some logistical facts and figures on how the Eternal City is gearing up to host the huge numbers expected to arrive for the Saturday evening prayer vigil and the Sunday morning Mass, beginning at 10am and presided over by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.
Philippa Hitchen reports:

Over two and a half thousand volunteers will be working throughout the weekend to distribute four million free water bottles and hand out 150.000 free liturgical booklets. They’ll also be providing information about free access to the Mass, which will be from the river end of Via della Conciliazione, and disability assistance points, which will be located in three areas close to St Peter’s Square.

The entire zone around the Vatican will be closed to traffic but extra bus lines will be laid on from coach parking facilities and both the main Metro lines will be running non-stop from early on Saturday morning until after midnight on Sunday. Up to a thousand extra portable toilets are being set up close to St Peter’s and surrounding areas, while 17 giant video screens will be broadcasting the Mass live around the city, including one at the Terminal 3 departure lounge of Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

There will be a prayer vigil starting at 5pm in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an exhibition of items pertaining to Pope John XXIII and the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Other prayer vigils, with the opportunity for Confession in different languages, will take place throughout the night in churches around the city centre, including the church of St Mark beside the Campidoglio for English speaking pilgrims and visitors.

For lots more details, maps and live video streaming, plus liturgical and inspirational material, you can visit the new ‘2popesaints.org’ website in five languages, download the free app ‘Santo Subito’ from the Apple Store and Google Player or stay tuned, right here to Vatican Radio for live commentary and full coverage of this historic weekend.

When Blessed John Paul II beatified John XXIII, the pope with prophetic insight

(Vatican Radio) Curiously when Pope Francis beatifies Blessed John Paul II on Sunday he'll also be canonising a man who was beatified by this very pope, John XXIII !

Veronica Scarisbrick brings you the words of Blessed John Paul II on the occasion of that beatification which took place on September 3, 2000:

Listen:

"Today we contemplate in the Glory of the Lord another Pontiff, John XXIII, the Pope who impressed the world with the friendliness of his manner which radiated the remarkable goodness of his soul.

Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and his outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world.

It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history: Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity.

In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: "What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness". We too wish to receive this testament, as we glorify God for having given him to us as a Pastor.

Celebrating the Pope’s feast day

(Vatican Radio) For the second year in a row here in the Vatican we're marking Saint George’s Day in a special way. For while Cardinal Bergoglio may have taken the name Francis as Pope, his Christian name is really Jorge , George to you and me. That’s why we've chosen to bring you a timely reflection for his Feast day on April 23.


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Especially as in England our patron Saint is Saint George. One who's most often depicted as a soldier fighting a dragon to save someone else's life.

Monsignor Peter Fleetwood of the Liverpool archdiocese in England reflects for us on the meaning of this symbolism explaining how dragons may be mythical animals, but myths contains symbols and symbols sum up some aspect of life that is very important or powerfu a she remarksl: " I suspect the dragon represents evil in any form. Some people may not like to hear this , but the dragon may represent evil people".


Veronica Scarisbrick adds that we might have to apologise to the Chinese in this respect for according to one of their ancient traditions dragons are symbols of good, so exactly the opposite.

But this is no Chinese story for as Father Peter Fleetwood tells us here in the West : "The dragon is a symbol of the power evil people can wield in this world. They can force good people into submission and either damage them or humiliate them or lead them astray. This is a frightening reality, and it is a reminder that sometimes goodness and holiness mean bravery in the face of wickedness. At a baptism, the new Christian is exorcised, not because she or he is possessed , but because the Christian Church recognises where human power runs out and we simply have to rely on God. Saint George is a reminder that we need help to survive when evil is about. It may be a naive symbolism, but the pictures and statues of Saint George are all about the battle between good and evil. They also heark back to what Jesus said about his sheep. He was there to protect them , because they needed protection. Saint George is a reminder that sometimes good people are called upon to bother to be brave and offer that protection in place of Jesus".

A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick for the series "Why Bother? Staying Catholic despite it all.."

Pope audience: Why do you seek the living among the dead

(Vatican Radio) Pilgrims thronged St. Peter’s Square, the long boulevard of Via della Conciliazione, spilling all the way down to the banks of the Tiber this Wednesday for Pope Francis' weekly general audience, the first of the Easter season.

The crowd was such, that the Holy Father’s open topped jeep took even longer than usual to tour through the square, filled with flags and banners from the parishes of the world. Many of them bore images of two of his predecessors, Blessed John Paul II and Blesses John XXIII, who this weekend – Divine Mercy Sunday - Pope Francis will raise to the altars of the saints.


A light rain fell as Pope Francis reached the raised dais set up before the basilica, from where he delivered his catechesis in Italian on the angels’ admonition of Mary Magdalene and the disciples the morning of Christ’s Resurrection: “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”

Below a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father's catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters Good day!
this week is the week of joy, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true, profound joy, based on the certainty that Christ is now risen, He is dead no more, but is alive and active in the Church and in the world . This certainty dwells in the hearts of believers from that Easter morning, when the women went to the tomb of Jesus and the angels said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead" (Lk 24,5) …”Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”. These words are a milestone in history; but also a "stumbling block" if we do not open ourselves to the Good News , if we believe that a dead Jesus is less of a nuisance than a living Jesus! Instead, in our daily journey, we often need to hear : Why do you seek the living one among the dead? . How often do we look for life among dead things, things that cannot give life, that are here today and gone tomorrow, Why do you seek the living one among the dead?

We need [these words] when we close ourselves within many forms of selfishness or self- complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by the earthly powers and the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbor; when we place our trust in worldly vanities, in money, in success. Then the Word of God tells us: "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”'. Why are you looking there, it can’t give you life it will give you joy for a day a week a month a year and then? Why do you seek the living one among the dead ? This sentence needs to enter into our heart….. Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Out loud! Why do you seek the living one among the dead ? And today when you go home say it in your heart, in silence ask why do I look in life among dead things for life? It will do us good!

But it is not easy, it is not obvious to accept the life of the Risen Christ and His presence among us. The Gospel shows us the reactions of the Apostle Thomas, Mary Magdalene and the two disciples of Emmaus: it does us good to confront them. Thomas puts a condition on his faith, he asks to touch the evidence, the wounds ; Mary Magdalene weeps, she sees him but does not recognize him, she only realizes that it is Jesus when He calls her by name; the disciples of Emmaus, depressed and feeling defeated, encounter Jesus by allowing themselves to be accompanied by the mysterious traveler. Each by different paths ! They were looking among the dead for One who is alive, and it was the same Lord to correct their course. And what do I do ? Which route to do I follow to meet the risen and living Christ? He will always be close to us to correct our course if we have gone wrong.

"Why do you seek the living one among the dead?" (Lk 24,5 ) . This question helps us resist the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and pushes us forward into the future. Jesus is not in the tomb, he is the Risen Lord, the Living, the One who always renews his body which is the Church and helps her walk, pulling her towards him. "Yesterday " is the tomb of Jesus and the Church, the tomb of truth and justice. "Today " is the perennial resurrection to which the Holy Spirit impels us, gifting us full freedom.

Today this question is also addressed to us. You, why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? you who close in on yourself after a failure or you who no longer have the strength to pray? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive, you who feel alone, abandoned by friends, and perhaps even by God? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive you who have lost hope or you who feel imprisoned by your sins? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive you who aspire to beauty, spiritual perfection , justice, peace?

We need to hear ourselves repeat and remind each other of the angel’s admonition! This admonition, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead" helps us emerge from our spaces of sadness and opens up for us horizons of joy and hope. That hope that removes stones from graves and encourages us to proclaim the Good News , capable of generating new life for others.

Let us repeat the Angels question to have it in our heart and mind and let each of us answer in silence Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Look dear brother s and sisters let’s not look among those many tombs that promise everything and give nothing let’s look for Him, Jesus isn't in the tomb. He is risen! He is alive and gifts life!

Below the English language summary of the Holy Father’s catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters: The joy of Easter is born of our faith in Christ’s resurrection and his continuing presence in the Church and in our world. With the resurrection, all has been made new and fresh hope has been poured out upon our world. The question which the angel asked the women on the morning of the resurrection is directed to us as well: “Why do you seek the living among the dead”? (Lk 24:5). The Gospel shows us three examples of a life-changing encounter with the Risen Lord and invites us to a similar encounter. Like Thomas, we need to grasp the reality of Christ’s rising to new life. Like Mary Magdalene, we need to hear Jesus’ voice calling our name. And like the travellers on the road to Emmaus, we need to find renewed joy and hope by recognizing that the Lord is ever at our side. These disciples sought the living among the dead, yet Jesus led them, by different paths, to faith in him and the power of his resurrection. Today he challenges each of us to seek him, the Living One, and to leave behind everything that holds us back from encountering him and sharing in the rebirth, the freedom and the hope which he alone can give.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Scotland, Sweden, Finland and the United States. I offer a special greeting to the newly-ordained deacons from the Pontifical Irish College, as well as their families and friends. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord. God bless you all!

‘Santa Marta’ homilies available in Italian volume

(Vatican Radio) It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated items for listeners tuning in to our Vatican Radio news broadcasts. It’s one of the most clicked-on stories for those browsing the different language pages of our Vatican Radio website. And it’s one of the most popular pieces picked up by the many other agencies, sites and social networks that share our daily output of news from here at the heart of the Holy See. It is, of course, the homily that Pope Francis gives at his regular morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he’s been living since his election on March 13th last year.

Now these reflections – 186 of them to be precise – have been gathered together in one Italian language volume which will go on sale from next Thursday April 24th with the title “The Truth is an Encounter. Homilies from Santa Marta”. Produced by Rizzoli publishers, the volume contains an introduction by Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of the twice monthly publication Civiltà Cattolica, and a preface by Vatican Radio director general, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi.

For the past 83 years, Fr Lombardi notes, since the Radio was founded by Guglielmo Marconi, it has been carrying out its mission “to spread the word(s) of the Pope” to the very ends of the earth. Its technicians, secretaries and journalists, he says, have now committed themselves “with dedication and joy” to this new task of sharing the very personal reflections on the daily readings that Pope Francis gives to those members of the congregation lucky enough to be present at his weekday morning Mass.

From May 7th, bookshops will also be selling the new volume together with a CD of all the homilies, recapturing the very distinctive voice of the Argentinian Pope, with his memorable expressions and colourful turns of phrase that have been captivating listeners around the world for the past 13 months.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:

‘Santa Marta’ homilies available in Italian volume

(Vatican Radio) It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated items for listeners tuning in to our Vatican Radio news broadcasts. It’s one of the most clicked on stories for those browsing the different language pages of our Vatican Radio website. And it’s one of the most popular pieces picked up by the many other agencies, sites and social networks that share our daily output of news from here at the heart of the Holy See. It is, of course, the homily that Pope Francis gives at his regular morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he’s been living since his election on March 13th last year.

Now these reflections – 186 of them to be precise – have been gathered together in one Italian language volume which will go on sale from next Thursday April 24th with the title “The Truth is an Encounter. Homilies from Santa Marta”. Produced by Rizzoli publishers, the volume contains an introduction by Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of the twice monthly publication Civiltà Cattolica, and a preface by Vatican Radio director general, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi.

For the past 83 years, Fr Lombardi notes, since the Radio was founded by Guglielmo Marconi, it has been carrying out its mission “to spread the word(s) of the Pope” to the very ends of the earth. Its technicians, secretaries and journalists, he says, have now committed themselves “with dedication and joy” to this new task of sharing the very personal reflections on the daily readings that Pope Francis gives to those members of the congregation lucky enough to be present at his weekday morning Mass.

From May 7th, bookshops will also be selling the new volume together with a CD of all the homilies, recapturing the very distinctive voice of the Argentinian Pope, with his memorable expressions and colourful turns of phrase that have been captivating listeners around the world for the past 13 months.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:

Blessed John Paul II’s Polish roots : courage and moral strength

(Vatican Radio ) I'm sure you remember John Paul II's invitation to us not to be afraid . Certainly he himself was not afraid to stand up to the trials of life in defense of others, neither as Pope nor as priest back in Poland.

As you'll discover in a programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick no one ever doubted the courage of Pope John Paul, certainly not his closest advisors. Among them Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze who specifies how .."Pope John Paul II put the Church on the map of the world and in the corridors of those who make policies as perhaps no other pope in our time...you know where he stands on major problems touching church and society...he is not afraid."

And certainly not some of those who personally knew him before he was elected Pope back in Poland. Among them a fellow school chum, a student of the future pope's at University, a personal friend and a Polish countess. All of whom recall the courage and moral strength of Karol Wojtyla both as a private and public figure. In a special way when he stood up to the repressive communist regime offering solidarity to those around him.

An impression of courage and moral strength reinforced by the Pope's own words which you can hear in this programme, such as when he denounced the injustice of poverty: "...the poor people ..poor in different ways, not only lacking food but also deprived of freedom and other human rights.. ", condemning those: " ...who take these goods away from them amassing to themselves the imperialistic monopoly of economic and political supremacy at the expense of others ..".Or again when he spoke of the importance of solidarity: .." for the disciple of Christ solidarity is a moral duty stemming from the spiritual union of all human beings who share a common origin, a common dignity and a common destiny ..".

Listen to this programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick:

Listen:

Canonization Vatican Briefing: The postulators talk about the two Popes

(Vatican Radio) Why are Popes John XXIII and John Paul II saints? That was the key question being asked at a briefing in the Vatican’s Press Hall on Tuesday that was attended by the postulators for the two Popes’ sainthood causes. The briefing kicked off a week of events in the Vatican leading up to Sunday’s canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II.

Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:


Father Giovangiuseppe Califano, the postulator for John XXIII, said as a 15 year old seminarian Angelo Roncalli was already making resolutions that were intended to help him become a saint for real. He said Pope John’s sainthood was characterized by a deep humility and he was both a shepherd and a father.

Roncalli, he continued, opened new horizons to the Church by convening the Second Vatican Council and was a capable communicator who by using simple every-day expressions succeeded in entering immediately into the hearts of people. Father Califano went on to explain how the words “obedience and peace” were not just Roncalli’s episcopal motto but were at the root of his sainthood as they characterized his life at the service of the Church.

The postulator for Pope John Paul II’s cause, Monsignor Slavomir Oder, spoke at the briefing of how the friends of Karol Woytyla at university described him as a “future saint” because they were so struck by his prayer habits and his reflections on the value of life. He said John Paul’s profound mysticism encouraged him to personally live out the mystery of God in his own life.


Man of God, Monsignor Oder said, is the word that truly characterizes a saint and this applies to Woytyla. He was a man who found the source of his life in God . Prayer for Karol Woytyla was his air, his water and his daily bread.





Pope John Paul II’s love for Holy Land in Jubilee Year pilgrimage

(Vatican Radio) Peace in the Holy Land was always an aspiration very dear to Pope John Paul II who was particularly concerned about the continuous drain of the indigenous Christian community from the land of Christ’s birth. Violence and economic difficulties have forced tens of thousands of them to flee abroad. Arab Christians now account for less than 2% of the population – where once they were a significant minority.


In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul’s finally fulfilled one of his greatest dreams: to walk the path of Jesus in the Holy Land. His apostolic pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Jerusalem was covered by the international media and seen by millions the world over, bringing a powerful message of solidarity with the local Christian community, but also one of dialogue and reconciliation between Christians, Muslims and Jews.


In this program by Tracey McClure, we hear excerpts from Pope John Paul’s discourses and comments from those like the Latin Patriarch of the time who accompanied him on that historic Holy Land pilgrimage:

Blessed John XXIII: Cardinal Loris Capovilla and the canonisation

(Vatican Radio) - Cardinal Loris Capovilla was for many years the personal secretary of John XXIII and recently wrote how this twentieth century Pope rather than arouse in us feelings of nostalgia should encourage us to look towards the future..

Fabio Colagrande asked him what he meant by that comment. The cardinal replied that as Pope John once said we are not called to be custodians of a shrine, a reliquary or a museum but rather to be custodians of a garden where is sown the seed of the Word , of the Word Incarnate. In fact he went on to say, we are called to cultivate our garden, to foster the advent of a new Pentecost, a new Easter, a new Spring, not just for our personal joy but for the joy of all of humanity.


The encyclical of Pope Francis, 'Evangelii Gaudium’ is good news but what is this good news? It is that I am a son of God and God does not abandon me. How wonderful it is to hear our present pope say every day or almost every day : ‘Jesus rejects nobody, he waits for every one of us to come to Him”.

Fabio Colagrande also asked the Cardinal to share with us his memories of working with John XXIII. Surprisingly he replied that he never considered himself as a collaborator but as a little servant among many others who saw in the Pope someone sent by God. " I never felt", he reiterated, " that I was collaborator or a secretary and still less an advisor, I would have perceived this as a scandalous assumption".

What I did experience however was the joy that came with being close to a man who was certainly guided by God and who set the seed for the future of the Church although I could not grasp to the full what was in his soul: as I said he set the seed for the future.

Finally asked what the day of the canonisation represents for him who shared so much with John XXIII, Cardinal Capovilla rather surprisingly replied that for him it would be a day like any other in the calendar. Because for Christians all the days in the calendar are festive and represent a reason to celebrate. For he who believes he insisted, it’s always Easter, always the Resurrection. Just to look to the heavens, or to beat one’s breast after having received the Eucharist is a great gift, a precious treasure, a great mystery of grace and light. For us it’s always time to celebrate…

A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick: