Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II

Yesterday evening we all went to sleep wondering how we would reach St Peter's in the morning for the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II. It was true we all (or nearly all) had tickets to concelebrate with Pope Francis but between the lodge where we stay and St Peter's there was a crowd of people who were going to sleep on the street as they too wanted to take part of the celebration. We decided to leave 15 minutes' earlier than planned.

I have been in charge of applying for tickets and collecting them. I started distributing them in the evening and when I finished in the morning I discovered... one was missing. I decided to stay though some of the bishops were no happy with that. Suddenly one told us he had already collected his from the Holy See and therefore he had two. I therefore got mine at the very last minute.

The police had blocked some of the streets allowing in this way those with tickets to move forward faster. In a few minutes we had reached our destination and joined around a thousand bishops who would be concelebrating. 

The few minutes we had before we were asked to go in procession to our places, allowed us to greet the familiar faces from different parts of the world. In my case bishops from Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, Argentina, Colombia...

Eighteen screens had been placed in Rome to allow the people watch the celebration from other places. The "Centro Televisivo Vaticano" (CTV) in partnership with Sky transmitted the celebration in 3D for those who had that technology at home and to those who could go to some of the cinemas who would be showing the celebration for free.
While we were waiting for the beginning of the celebration some of us took that opportunity to take some photos. Bishop Dziuba was picked up by the media as one of them. We were happy about it because we had appointed him the "official photographer" of the "ad limina visit". 

We all stood when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI arrived. He was joyfully welcomed by the crowd who saw him on the screens. They probably saw him better than us. It is never easy to see someone behind lines of mitres. 

It would be the first time Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict would concelebrate at the celebration of the Mass. It was also one of the few times when bishops were given the opportunity to concelebrate at Mass. Bishops are normally welcomed and given a special place but do not concelebrate. It was a first for us too!

The Mass started with the litanies and it was followed by the proclamation of John XXIII and John Paul II as our new saints. Pope Francis had not finished reading the text when people started clapping and celebrating the good news.

At the end of the Mass we looked at each other and said... "it never rained!". It had been clouded all the time and it started drizzling before Mass but that was all. Rain only came in the afternoon when everything was over.

On our way out we were able to pass in front of the image of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. If you followed the celebration, you might remember that Pope Francis walked towards this image to lead the prayer of the "Regina Coeli" before the final blessing.

After Mass, coming back to the lodge, seemed to be more difficult than going to St Peter's as security had been reorganised and others streets had been closed.

In all of us there was great joy having been able to participate in this historical moment. 

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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