All through the night and into the early hours of this morning people from all around the world have been holding prayer vigils, playing music and soaking up the atmosphere of this unique event.
A night of prayer was held in many Churches around the city while members of the Polish community held a vigil in the city’s Piazza Navona.
Many people including parents with their children had slept out under the night sky near the St Peter’s Square and could be seen waking early to prepare breakfast.
Others were cramming into coffee bars near St Peter’s Square to get that last cup of coffee before the ceremony, while street vendors continue to do a roaring trade selling images of these two soon to be Saints.
For those who can’t make it to the Square there are big screens located around the city including at Castel Sant Angelo which is just a stone’s throw from St Peter’s.
The flags that many pilgrims are holding, as they try and keep their groups together, denote the vast distance they have travelled to be in Rome. There are flags from Brazil, Argentina, the United States, as well as the thousands of flags from Blessed Pope John Paul II’s homeland of Poland. Pope John XXIII is well represented too with are large contingent from Bergamo present in the Square.The sheer scale of how much technology has moved on from the time of these two Pontiffs is very much in evidence, because not only are the crowds using their cameras to record the event but tablets, and smart phones are being used to their full advantage by many here in the city to help tell the story of this day in Rome.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing though, the Italian Red Cross has been dealing with people who have collapsed due to the large number of crowds and Civil Protection officials are continuing to give out bottles of water to ensure pilgrims are well hydrated.
Those in the Square told Vatican Radio that they just had to be here for such an historic event. One pilgrim summed up the atmosphere by saying that seeing so many people celebrating, meeting other cultures, and the sense of harmony apparent is the culmination of what these two Pope’s were working for.