Sunday May 1
I didn’t expect to be so emotionally affected as I was today during the beatification ceremony of John Paul II. I went to Santa Maria Maggiore to watch outside on the big screen, and since I arrived early, I was only about 25 feet away from the screen. By the time it ended and I looked behind me, there were at least several thousand of us.
I was extremely moved and inspired being part of a large group of people of all different nationalities, participating in the Papal Mass and beatification of John Paul II. I was very much touched by the reactions of the large group of people from Poland who were around me. By their applause and flags, and their undivided attention, it was apparent just how much this meant to them.
The crowd was very controlled, as everyone was there for the same purpose. Nobody was pushing anyone to get a better spot; everybody seemed to be respectful of everybody else. It was a little like having lawn seating at an outdoor concert, minus the marijuana and alcohol, and the mood of the people was much more somber. I thought the logistics and planning for this huge event was done very well. The security personnel even handed out bottled water at no charge.
Aside from the vendors set up in the area around St Peter’s, there were no signs of commercialization whatsoever at Santa Maria Maggiore. It was just a large group of people who wanted to celebrate the beatification of John Paul II.
During communion I was surprised to see about 15 or 20 priests emerge from Santa Maria Maggiore Church to distribute communion to the crowd during the Mass.
I’m really glad that I was here for this history-making event, and that I went this morning to Santa Maria Maggiore rather than try to get to St Peter’s. This ended up to be a better place to be as I was able to see everything close up on the giant screen, including the aerial video of the throngs of people at St Peter’s Square.
The weather cooperated and today was a stark contrast to yesterday’s grey rainy day.