I was up early enough Sunday morning to meet the Saturday night crowds going home on my way to cover the beatification of John Paul II for Time.
Even before the sun had risen, the crowd attending the beatification of Pope John Paul II had overfilled the square around the St. Peter’s basilica. By the time dawn broke, the faithful had spilled down the road towards the Tiber and into the side streets around the Vatican, where the ceremony — the first major milestone towards sainthood — was set to take place.
Many had spent the night, in tents or on blankets spread over the cobblestones. More than a million had risen early Sunday morning in order to join in the veneration of a larger-than-life Polish pope, who many felt had personally touched their lives. “I felt, when he was alive, that if I met him on the street, he would know my name,” said Danuta Kowalik, 36, a teacher who had driven from Poland for the occasion.
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