The events planned for the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II are outlined in this special meeting held for world media representatives in Rome.
The speakers were Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office; Msgr. Marco Frisina, director of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Vicariate of Rome; Fr. Walter Insero, director of the Office of Social Communications of the Vicariate of Rome; and Angleo Scelzo, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Fr. Lombardi explained that this morning, in the Vatican Grottoes, "the tomb of John Paul II was opened and the case containing the body of the Venerable Servant of God was extracted".
"As can be recalled, the Pope was buried in three coffins, the first of wood, which was displayed during the funeral, the second of lead, which is sealed, and the third, external one, which is also made of wood and was the one revealed this morning at the moment of the extraction from the tomb. It is in a good state of preservation, even though showing signs of the passage of time.
After the procedures to open the tomb, which began first thing in the morning, the coffin was displayed on a dais at the gravesite until 9:00am, when Cardinal Angelo Comastri, after a brief prayer, intoned the litanies.
Besides Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archbishop Giuseppe D’Andrea, and Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, representing the Basilica and the Chapter of St. Peter, there were also present Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State; Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland and former personal secretary to John Paul II; Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; Cardinal Carlo Maria Vigano, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Archbishop Piero Marini, who was Master of Liturgical Celebrations under John Paul II; Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; Sr. Tobiana and the religious of the papal apartments of John Paul II; Commander Angelo Gugel; the heads of the Corps of the Gendarmerie of Vatican City State and the Swiss Guard; and other persons.
All together there were several dozen persons including the workers of the Fabric of St. Peters who carried out their task with great devotion and a profound spiritual participation.
While singing the litanies during the brief passage, the case was translated before the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican Grottoes and was covered with a wide cloth embroidered in gold.
The Cardinal Secretary of State offered a short final prayer and the assembly disbanded at 9:15am.
The great stone of the tomb, removed and placed in another part of the grottoes, is intact and will be moved to Krakow where it will be placed in the new church dedicated to the Blessed John Paul II.
The coffin, as already announced, will remain in the grottoes until Sunday morning when it will be translated to the Basilica, before the main altar, for the homage of the Holy Father and the faithful after the beatification. In the meantime the Vatican grottoes will be closed to the public.
In all likelihood the permanent placement of the Blessed under the altar of the Chapel of St. Sebastian will take place in the afternoon of Monday, 2 May, when the Basilica will be closed".
Msgr. Frisina explained that the celebration of the Vigil on 30 April (from 8:00pm to 11:30pm) at Circo Massimo – which will be open to the public beginning fom 5:30pm – will be enlivened by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome and the Orchestra of the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, which he will conduct. The choir of the Philippine community in Rome and the Gaudium Poloniae Choir will perform two traditional pieces.
During the first part of the vigil a celebration of memory, recalling the words and gestures of John Paul II, is planned. "On stage", Msgr. Frisina said, "there will be a large reproduction of the image of Mary Salus Populi Romani, patroness of the city of Rome. Through images we will also relive the last months of the pontificate of John Paul II, which were marked by his suffering".
Later, testimonials of some of those who worked with the pope will be given: Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, and the French nun Marie Simon-Pierre whose miraculous cure opened the path to his beatification. Likewise, the testimonial of some of the youth of Rome on the importance of the example and the words of the Blessed on their lives will be offered. At the end of this second part, Totus Tuus, composed for the fiftieth anniversary of the priestly ordination of John Paul II (1996), will be sung.
Msgr. Frisina noted that the second part of the Vigil will begin with a few words addressed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome that "will summarize the spiritual and pastoral character of the Blessed". Afterward will follow the recitation of the Mysteries of Light of the Holy Rosary, with a live link with five Marian shrines. Each of the Mysteries will be tied to a prayer intention of importance to John Paul II: at the sanctuary of Lagiewniki in Krakow, Poland the intention will be for the youth; at the sanctuary of Kawekamo, Bugando, Tanzania the intention will be for the family; at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico the intention will be for hope and peace among nations; at the sanctuary of Fatima, the intention will be for the Church. At the conclusion, Benedict XVI, in a live link from the Vatican, will give the final prayer and will impart the apostolic blessing to all participating.
Regarding the beatification Mass on 1 May, the Sunday after Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, an hour before the service begins – that is, at 9:00am – there will be an hour of preparation during which the faithful shall pray together the Devotion of Divine Mercy, which was introduced by St. Mary Faustina Kowalska and was dear to Blessed John Paul II. The preparation will conclude with an invocation to the Mercy of God in the world, with the hymn "Jezu ufam tobie" (Jesus, I trust in you).
Directly following will be Holy Mass, with the readings of the Sunday after Easter. At the end of the rite of beatification, when the tapestry depicting the newly Blessed is unveiled, the Hymn of the Blessed will be sung in Latin. At the end of the Mass, a reliquary of John Paul II will be brought to the altar for the veneration of all the faithful.
The Mass of Thanksgiving (Monday 2 May, in St. Peter’s Square at 10:30am) will be presided over by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and will be preceded by an hour of preparation during which we will hear some of John Paul II’s poetry recited by two actors, one Polish and the other Italian. The Eucharistic celebration will be enlivened by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome with the participation of the Choir of Warsaw and the Symphonic Orchestra of the Radio of Katowice, Poland. The texts will be those from the Mass of the newly Blessed.
For his part, Fr. Watler Insero, director of the Office of Social Communications of the Vicariate of Rome, clarified a few points regarding the events connected with the beatification, among which was the "white night" of prayer that the city of Rome will hold for the first time.
"After the Vigil in Circo Massimo, beginning at 11:30pm", he said, "it will be possible to continue praying until dawn in eight churches in the city center that are found on the journey from Circo Massimo to St. Peter’s Basilica: Santa Anastasia, San Bartolomeo all’Isola, Santa Agnese in Agone (in Piazza Navona, which will be led by a group of Polish youth), San Marco al Campidoglio, Santissimo Nome di Gesu all’Argentina, Santa Maria in Vallicella, San Andrea della Valle, and San Giovanni dei Fiorentini".
"The Roman youth, serving as hosts of this evening of faith, will greet the pilgrims, inviting them to enter the churches and join in the prayers. During the night, in keeping with the common format adopted by the churches involved, there will be an alternation of the various following moments programmed: the reading of and meditation on the Word of God; silence and Eucharistic adoration; and the reading of some texts that John Paul II addressed to the youth. There will also be testimonials from some young persons, songs performed by youth groups, and the recitation of the Rosary and Divine Mercy Devotion. In these eight churches (…) many priests will be available to hear confessions.
Fr. Walter Insero also announced that Caritas’ soup kitchen for the poor and service center at Termini Station will be dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. It is "a sign of love offered by the Diocese of Rome to recall her beloved bishop and his pastoral concern for the poorest of the poor". He also noted that the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television, and the Office for Social Communications of the Vicariate of Rome have realized an important project focused on social networking that is called "Digital Sentinels".
"It is an initiative", he said, "has created groups of faithful, young and old, who bring the witness and teaching of the newly Blessed to the web, especially through Facebook and Twitter. The entire initiative is described at: http://www.pope2you.net/index.php?id’—testi=61. The great event that the digital sentinels are organizing, however, will be even more innovative: through the official Twitter channel (created by the Vatican for the pope’s beatification) http://twitter.com/#!/Pope2YouVatican and Vatican Radio’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/vatican.Johnpaul2) it will be possible to follow the beatification celebrations live. Moreover, at Pope2You.net it will be possible to stream the events, also through apps for iPhone and iPad. http://www.vatican.va/video will also be streaming the events".
"’Digital Sentinels’, which was launched this 5 April", Fr. Walter Insero concluded, "has had an excellent reception and resonance in the communications world. …. Almost 1000 persons (specialized journalists, communications experts, ….) will follow our live Twitter feed and more than 3000 persons on Facebook are populating our Sentinel groups … Also, thanks to the new Pope2You service, almost 40,000 ecards have been sent with quotes addressed by John Paul II to the youth". (VIS.)