A North Texas perspective as two popes enter sainthood



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Posted on April 27, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 28 at 9:12 AM

On Sunday, we saw a "selfie" at St. Peter’s Square courtesy of Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas.

He tweeted that he was one of a thousand bishops in attendance for the unprecedented double canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII at the Vatican.

Bishop Farrell snapped the photos from a very special perspective at the epicenter of the ceremony.

The estimated 800,000 Catholics who descended on Rome to witness the event didn’t have the luxury of assigned seats. Many of those who wanted a close-up vantage point had to arrive early and brave the elements, said Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

“They spent the night there; they spent the night in the rain praying at an all-night vigil," he said, speaking to News 8 by phone from the Eternal City.

Svacina added he was not one of those who packed in early, so he was several blocks away at the Piazza Navona. But it was no less special.

Big screen monitors relayed the occasion, and Svacina was surrounded by a large crowd from Saint John Paul II’s home country of Poland.

“You look at these Polish people and they are crying and cheering because one of their own had become a saint — one who lived among them," he said. "It was a touching and moving moment, because you were among people who felt and lived in the presence of such a great person”.

Svacina believes that greatness sort of settled in over Rome on the special day.

Despite the crush of Catholics who traveled to be part of it all, Svacina said he didn’t witness a single problem.

“You had millions of people in the city of Rome. I never saw one security checkpoint. I never saw one person having to help usher people to or from locations to make things easier," he said. "It was an unbelievably orderly religious moving moment that no one could stage. No Super Bowl or Final Four could ever come off as perfectly as this did today. All of Rome turned into a church; it turned into a massive worship service. It was something like you have never seen or witnessed before."

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com