PILGRIMS TELL THEIR STORIES
BY CAROL GLATZ
BLESSED Pope John Paul II worked a number of miracles at his beatification, some pilgrims have said.
Weather forecasts of a weekend of heavy rain turned into innocuous grey clouds on April 30 and then sunny skies on May 1. “We prayed to John Paul that it wouldn’t rain,” said Josephine Faehrmann from Sydney, Australia, who was planning to sleep outside with her friends.
Also, mysterious benefactors with a special devotion to the Polish pope paid for a bus full of young people from Naples to attend the ceremonies “because John Paul II loved young people and we had to be here”, Rosa Giordano said.
Each of the more than one million people of every age, background and nationality attending the vigil in Circus Maximus and beatification in St Peter’s Square had his or her own story of pilgrimage.
Danila Fabrizio, another member of the group that left Naples at one in the morning May 1 on the benefactor’s bus, said: “This is a sign of God’s providence that we’re here.” The secret benefactors also supplied rosaries, prayer cards and a poster of the new blessed “to hang up in the back window of the bus, but it wouldn’t stick because of the humidity”, said Miss Fabrizio.
Valeria Buonpastore from Charlotte, North Carolina, was on the bus from Naples and said she had been planning to watch the ceremony on television from her home. But then a friend told her there was a free bus with two seats that had just opened up if she wanted to go. “It’s really a miracle that I'm here,” she said.
Thibaut Cappe, 23, from Paris, who came with a group of 12 people, said they had nowhere to spend the night, but someone in Rome invited them to stay in his very nice apartment.
“It was awesome. We were very lucky. Many people slept in the street,” Mr Cappe said. He said they got up at three am and managed to find a spot halfway up Via della Conciliazione, the wide boulevard leading up to St Peter’s Basilica.
Another group from Paris were not so lucky. They were blocked in the same spot near a hospital by the river several streets from the square since six pm on April 30, said Carole Deverre. At 7.30am the next day they had still made no progress in getting closer to the square. “We can’t see the screen. There is no toilet. It’s not very pleasant,” she said. “But we are very happy to be here and right now we are going to pray to not be disappointed.” But many came prepared and shared. One couple passed around a thermos of hot coffee while a group from Derry said they were handing out crisps, biscuits and snacks from their overflowing supply in an open suitcase on the ground. Some groups had set up small tents and laid down blue tarpaulins.