Rome prepares for canonisation

Mayor says Rome is ready for event

Over 60 delegations from 54 countries are expected in Rome for the upcoming double canonisation of popes John XXIII and John Paul II at the Vatican on 27 April.

There will be 19 heads of state, 24 prime ministers and 23 government ministers from nations around the world, as well as 800,000 pilgrims, according to figures released by Italy's interior ministry. The number of pilgrims is far less than the figures initially touted — from seven million down to three million — something that the city's hoteliers believe dissuaded potential visitors from travelling to Rome.

Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino said the city was "ready, more than ready" for the massive event which will be watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide.

The capital is expecting the arrival of around 2,000 coaches which will park outside the centre, with the pilgrims being transported to the Vatican by shuttle buses. In addition to the closure of Via dei Fori Imperiali, the Lungotevere will also be closed to traffic, to facilitate the movement of the international delegations as well as for emergency reasons.

There will be more than 2,430 members of the security forces on duty in Rome over the canonisation weekend.