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Rome prepares for millions at double canonization

The city of Rome and the Vatican are preparing for a record number of visitors to attend the historic double canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII Sunday.

"Oh, there's a lot of anticipation. We're expecting millions of pilgrims to come to Rome for this double canonization." (Via CNN)

Pope Francis will declare the sainthood of both John Paul II and John XXIII Sunday at the Vatican. This will be the first double canonization since the Middle Ages. (Via CTV)

Italy's interior ministry told reporters, in addition to the 800,000 pilgrims that are expected to gather in St. Peter's Square for the ceremony, as many as 150 cardinals, 1,000 bishops and 24 heads of state will also be in attendance. (Via Flickr / Sebastien Bertrand)

Even Pope Benedict XVI will be at the Mass, according to Vatican Radio. He will reportedly not be at the altar but will instead join the group of cardinals and bishops at the ceremony. (Via ABC)

Benedict resigned the papacy in February 2013. And, as CNN points out, because a new pope normally takes over only after his predecessor's death, it will be historic to see Benedict and Francis together at the same time.

Rome has been hard at work preparing for the staggering number of visitors expected to flood the city since John Paul II and John XXIII were approved for sainthood.

Local authorities told reporters they have put a nearly $11 million plan in place for the increased number of visitors. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Andrea Tille)

And NPR reports officials are also boosting public transportation for Saturday and Sunday and setting up at least 17 giant screens around the city to broadcast Sunday's ceremony in at least five different languages.

The canonization ceremony of these two popes is a big deal, to say the least. 

As The Wall Street Journal notes, John Paul II died in 2005 and is known for, among other things, his role in helping end Communist rule in Eastern Europe. John XXIII, who died in 1963, inaugurated the Second Vatican Council, which helped modernize Catholic doctrine.

As a writer for Bloomberg notes, both popes "came to represent two of the most influential visions for today’s Church."

Being involved in a double canonization is rare in itself. But John Paul's beatification will also be the one of the fastest in modern times.

Pope Benedict put John Paul on what some call the "fast-track" to sainthood when he waived the standard five-year waiting period to begin the process of canonization. (Via Los Angeles Times)

The double canonization ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Vatican time Sunday.

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