- Associated Press - Saturday, April 30, 2011

ROME (AP) — Thousands of people, young and old, have flooded Rome’s Circus Maximus field for a prayer vigil honoring Pope John Paul II on the eve of his beatification.

The vigil opened at nightfall Saturday with a rendition of an anthem closely identified with the late pope. Candles passed flame to flame made the entire field twinkle as the choir sang.

John Paul’s longtime secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz sat with dozens of his fellow cardinals on a stage as video hookups showed the faithful at Marian shrines in Mexico, Tanzania, Poland, Lebanon and Fatima, Portugal, celebrating the milestone on John Paul’s path to sainthood.

John Paul is to be beatified Sunday in St. Peter’s Square in the fastest beatification in modern times. He died April 2, 2005.

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