Move over, wedding fever: “Beatification fever” has begun. Tens of thousands are arriving in Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, for which the pontiff’s coffin was exhumed today. As Vatican officials—including John Paul’s closest aide, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz—watched and prayed, the coffin was lifted from the crypts under St. Peter’s Basilica, Reuters reports. It will rest in front of the Basilica’s main altar.
Posters of the pope are hanging all over Rome ahead of Sunday’s beatification ceremony. The night before will see an all-night prayer vigil at the Circus Maximus in Rome, once used for chariot races. Those close to John Paul will reflect on him. The next day, Pope Benedict XVI will perform the beatification ceremony at a mass in St. Peter’s Square. Afterward, John Paul’s coffin will be on public view before being transferred to a crypt under a side chapel near Michelangelo’s famous Pieta statue.