All invited to John Paul beatification: Vatican

Tue Apr 5, 2011 1:14pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican urged the faithful on Tuesday not to let reports of huge crowds or unscrupulous hoteliers deter them from coming to Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul on May 1.

"I invite everyone to come. Rome is ready. Don't be afraid of coming or of inviting people," said Father Caesar Atuire.

The Vatican has begun the countdown to what will be the biggest event in the Italian capital since the death of the charismatic and highly popular pope in 2005, when millions of people came to view his body or attend his funeral.

Vatican officials expect at least 300,000 people -- including tens of thousands from his native Poland -- to come to Rome for the three days of events during which he will be declared a "blessed," the last step before sainthood.

The Vatican has already warned the faithful to beware of fraudsters, particularly on the Internet, who are selling tickets to the beatification ceremony. No tickets will be necessary for any of the ceremonies.

The star of the Rome events will be Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a 49-year-old French nun who is said to have been miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease months after John Paul's death after she and fellow nuns prayed to him.

Vatican officials told a news conference that they had stipulated an "ethical pact" with the Rome hoteliers association in which members promised not to jack up prices for the period of the events, when rooms are expected to be scarce.

There have been numerous media reports of skyrocketing prices, particularly in hotels in Rome's historic center or in the Vatican area on the other side of the Tiber River.   Continued...

<p>Workers hold a painting of the late pope John Paul II during the staging of the exhibition "Karol Josef Wojtyla" at the Villacero exhibition hall in Monterrey, April 22, 2010. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo</p>