On Sunday, April 27th, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonized, and the Vatican has just posted the program for the grand event [pdf].
The introductory biographical materials are presented in Italian, English, Spanish, and Polish; followed by a “Preparation for the Celebration” which includes a series of excerpts from sermons and addresses by the two popes (pp. 43-56 of the booklet; pp. 22-29 of the pdf), in Polish (JPII), Italian (JXXIII), English (JPII), Italian (JXXIII) and French (JPII), placed in the context of various prayers and music in Italian. The Rite of Canonization and Celebration of the Eucharist is next, with the Latin text (and music) on the right hand page and English and Italian translations on the left. Interestingly, the first reading [Acts 2:42-47] and psalm [Ps 117] will be in Italian; the second [1 Peter 1:3-9] in Polish, and the Gospel [John 20:19-31] is read twice — first in Latin, then repeated in Greek. In a similar way, the petitions of the prayers of the faithful are offered in Spanish, Arabic, English, Chinese, and French.
But as is often noted, a liturgical celebration is not what is on paper, but is what takes place. It is action, not text. To the outline of the event presented in the program, Vatican Insider notes some of the additional detail that starts to give some color to the event that will be celebrated next Sunday:
Francis will co-celebrate this Sunday’s Mass for the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, with about 150 cardinals, a thousand bishops and six thousand priests, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi said at a press conference.
Cardinals and bishops will be standing on the left hand side of the courtyard in front of the Basilica and so will the six thousand priests who will be attending, except they will be standing lower down. Meanwhile, official delegations will stand to the right of the courtyard.
Six hundred priests and two hundred deacons who will be leaving from the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina on Via della Conciliazione will be administering communion in St. Peter’s Square.
Also of interest is the attendance of others. Although no official invitations were sent out, word seems to have gotten around that something big will be happening at the Vatican next Sunday:
So far it has been confirmed that there will be official delegations from about 90 countries, plus others representing international bodies such as the EU, present at Sunday’s ceremony. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained that 24 heads of State, including presidents and monarchs, have confirmed their attendance so far. If we also take into account prime ministers and governors, the total number of top level delegations is 35. The others will be headed by ministers, ambassadors or other figures. Italy and Poland will be the two countries represented at the highest level, being the homelands of the two new saints. . .
The same applies for representatives of other religions: “no invitations are sent to representatives of other religions: they know about this celebration and are welcome to attend,” Fr. Lombardi added. Representatives of the Orthodox and Anglican Churches will be present in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday “but these are not seen as official delegations representing Churches r [sic] denominations.” “There will be an important group of Jewish representatives who have expressed their high esteem for these two Popes who were particularly important in terms of relations with the Jewish people,” Fr. Lombardi said. Muslim figures have also expressed their wish to participate but there are no delegations with lists of figures to communicate.”
The big question mark is whether Pope Emeritus Benedict will be in attendance. Per Vatican Insider, it appears the biggest issue is simply his health/energy:
“The Pope Emeritus has been invited and we will be happy if he comes,” Fr. Lombardi added. “We respect his freedom and the fact he is waiting to see if he will feel up to it on the day. Officially he does not have to be there. He is eager to: if he comes we will all be very glad, if he doesn’t come we have no right to feel disappointed. . . . Careful consideration will go into this, let’s treat is as a last minute surprise.”
Lots to chew on here for those of a liturgical bent, with plenty more to examined once the event itself takes place. Please add your thoughts in the comments.