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Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have been arriving in Rome ahead of Sunday’s historic canonisation of two former popes, John Paul II and John XXIII.
Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last year, is due to attend the ceremony.
The decision to grant sainthood to John Paul is controversial for some, who argue he did not respond adequately to sex abuse scandals.
His supporters say that’s not the point.
“Canonisation is not the good housekeeping seal of a papacy, of a government, of a reign because when human beings are in charge of things, such as Popes are too, there may be oversights. Maybe some areas were not addressed. But canonisation is ultimately about holiness, closeness to God,” said Father Thomas Rosica, Chief Executive of the Catholic Salt + Light TV.
For those unable to get into St Peter’s Square, TV screens are being set up around Rome.
What has been described as a fairground atmosphere has set in – despite forecasts of distinctly gloomy weather for the occasion.
Polish visitor Pawel Wrobel said:
“There’s no need to worry, people are prepared. I don’t think they will be put off from coming. They’re doing so for really important reasons, they’re not afraid of the weather.”
“So what if it rains tomorrow? Who cares if it rains. It’s part of sainthood!” laughed another pilgrim, Orlando Palazzo, speaking in Italian.
Plenty of pilgrims have come from South America, drawn by the appeal of the Argentine Pope Francis who is to officiate the ceremony and declare his two predecessors to be saints.