On the eve of the canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday, reporter Louisa Clarence-Smith met Catholics from all over the world joining the perennial mass of tourists, street vendors, and police in Rome’s spiritual centre. Nearly a million pilgrims have arrived in Rome for the canonisation ceremony. Louisa Clarence-Smith found out what made some them travel from as far afield as Florida, Texas, and Kenya to Rome for the occasion.
Father James Mureithi Wangai, Kenya
“I’m from Kenya and John Paul II came to Kenya three times. I had the chance to be at the mass the last time he came to Kenya so when I became a parish priest we dedicated a church to him. Although by then he was just three months dead, I had such a strong feeling he was becoming a saint so that’s why I said I have to come for this canonisation.”
Liam O’Toole, Texas, USA
“I think the Pope’s like the most incredible guy and so any time to see him is incredibly special but to see him on the day when pope John Paul III and pope John XXIII are being canonised is much more important because they are all such great people and they are great saints for us to admire.”
Iolanda Turle, Rome, Italy
“We came today because there are less people. Tomorrow it will be impossible to enter so we will watch it from home. The two popes represent two different moments in history. Two great popes. In my opinion the world is in great difficulty and this is one of the reasons for canonising them now.”
Paulette Kartos, Florida, USA
“Pope John Paul II was the pope for most of my life and my childrens’ and I knew him and I wanted to be here because to know someone and have him raised to the altar as a saint is something that one rarely experiences in a lifetime.”
Maria Spaletta, Sicily, Italy
“Even if I don’t manage to enter the day after tomorrow at least I’ll have been here, that’s why I came.” ——- By Louisa Clarence-Smith, a London-based journalist who covers the UK and Italy. Louisa is @LouisaWimbledon on Twitter. All photographs by Ms Clarence-Smith.