Beatification of Pope John Paul II: Rome's population doubled by pilgrims
Up to a million Catholics are expected to descend on Rome to celebrate the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II, a ceremony that will move him one step closer to sainthood.
While the Vatican has said that it expects around 400,000 pilgrims to converge on the Italian capital for the three-day event, other estimates predict double that number.
The exact number is hard to predict because the ceremony will take place just two days after the royal wedding in Britain. But, hoping for large numers, the Vatican and Italian tour operators have booked entire hotels in Rome and its surroundings.
The capital has been festooned with posters of the former pope as the city where he was bishop for 27 years awaits one of the largest crowds since his funeral in 2005, when millions came to pay tribute to one of the most popular popes in history.
Thousands of pilgrims from Poland - where Pope John Paul II was born - will be among the crowds that gather on Sunday at a mass in St Peter's Square to see Pope Benedict XVI pronounce a Latin formula declaring his predecessor a "blessed" of the Church....
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