Joyful pilgrims pour into Rome for saint ceremony

Sunday - 4/27/2014, 2:18am EDT

A priest stands in one of the entrances of the Saint Luigi dei Francesi (St. Louis of the French) church decorated with portraits of late Pope John Paul II and John XXIII during a mass in Rome, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Pilgrims and faithful are gathering in Rome to attend Sunday's ceremony at the Vatican where Pope Francis will elevate in a solemn ceremony John XXIII and John Paul II to sainthood. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- By train, bus, car and on foot, pilgrims and tourists streamed into Rome on Saturday to participate in the ceremony in St. Peter's Square that will see two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, be proclaimed saints.

Italy's interior minister says as many as 1 million people could be drawn to Rome for the extraordinary occurrence of two pontiffs being canonized at a Mass on Sunday where two living popes will be present. The Vatican has confirmed that retired Benedict XVI will help Pope Francis and dozens of cardinals celebrate the Mass outside St. Peter's Basilica.

The square will open to the faithful Sunday morning before dawn, and many people had spread out sleeping bags and mats in the area just outside the Vatican in hopes of securing prime viewing spots. The sound of hymns being sung in Italian, Polish, English and other languages could be heard Saturday in much of Rome as pilgrims made their way through the capital heading from buses and trains toward the Vatican. Some pilgrims set out weeks ago from Poland to make the journey by foot; others were arriving by horseback.

Tens of thousands of faithful, many of them young people, will pack several churches throughout Rome late Saturday for a prayer vigil.

Here are some photos from Rome and the Vatican on Saturday.

___

Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.