In Rome or here, this weekend is for John Paul II

Radio station announcement of celebration here

Whether in Rome or in San José, Catholics will get the chance to participate in religious ceremonies marking the ascension to sainthood of former pope John Paul II.

The fast-track beatification is planned for Sunday in Rome, and the Embassy of Costa Rica is organizing a Roman Catholic Mass the day before for those Ticos and Ticas who may be there.

Meanwhile, in San José the Catholic station Radio Fides plans an 11-hour festival in the national stadium, an event that also will include a Mass.

The Costa Rican foreign ministry announced the events in Rome. Hugo Barrantes, the archbishop of San José, will celebrate the Mass. He will be participating in the beatification ceremony the next day. The 4 p.m. Mass will be in the Iglesia Nacional de Argentina, according to the ministry.

René Castro, the minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, will be going to Rome, and the ministry said he will renew the invitation by President Laura Chinchilla for the current pope, Benedict XVI, to visit Costa Rica.

The long-serving John Paul is held in high regard by Costa Ricans, and many saw him when he visited from March 2 to 4, 1983. John Paul held two doctorates and spoke Spanish and some 11 other languages fluently. He was the first pope to visit here.

Two verified miracles are required for Roman Catholic sainthood, and the Vatican has accepted the report of a French nun who said she was cured of Parkinson’s, and a Polish boy whose kidney cancer went into remission.

The 84-year-old pope died April 2, 2005, and the Roman church usually requires at least five years to pass before even considering someone for

Radio station announcement of celebration here

sainthood. But an exception was made for John Paul.

When he was in Costa Rica, the pope visited the Hospital Nacional de Niños and also handicapped children. So there are many who believe he was instrumental to their recovery. Many also attended an open-air Mass at the now demolished national stadium.

The pope’s 1983 Central American tour included Panamá, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and even Haiti, according to a schedule maintained by the Vatican.

The radio station plans to begin its celebration Saturday afternoon and continue until at least 6 a.m. Sunday. The beatification ceremony in Rome will be carried on the new stadium’s giant television screens. Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Van Tot, the Vatican representative in Costa Rica, will say a Mass at 9 a.m. following the transmission of the Mass at the Vatican.

John Paul will join the more than 2,500 saints canonized by the Roman church since about 990. The May 1 date is not an accident. This is the traditional celebration of Communist power in the former Soviet Union and in the pope’s native Poland. He was one of the major public figures who led to the downfall of the Soviet regime.

John Paul also will be remembered for the efforts he made to solve differences between the Roman church and other faiths. He also has been recognized for saving Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

When he died, Costa Rica declared a four-day period of mourning and the flags flew at half staff.

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