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John Paul Honored at Vigil on Eve of Beatification

Pilgrims wave a Polish flag and sing as they gather in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Saturday, April 30, 2011, a day before late Pope John Paul II's beatification. Tens of thousands of people are converging on Rome for the beatification and many are expected to attend an all-night vigil in Rome's Circus Maximus. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Thousands of people, young and old, have flooded Rome’s Circus Maximus field for a prayer vigil honoring Pope John Paul II on the eve of his beatification.

The vigil opened at nightfall Saturday with a rendition of an anthem closely identified with the late pope. Candles passed flame to flame made the entire field twinkle as the choir sang.


John Paul’s longtime secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz sat with dozens of his fellow cardinals on a stage as video hookups showed the faithful at Marian shrines in Mexico, Tanzania, Poland, Lebanon and Fatima, Portugal, celebrating the milestone on John Paul’s path to sainthood.

John Paul is to be beatified Sunday in St. Peter’s Square in the fastest beatification in modern times. He died April 2, 2005.

NICOLE WINFIELD,Associated Press

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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