HOLY NIGHT

Thousands Gather on Eve of John Paul II's Beatification

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a vigil Saturday night at the Circus Maximus, the site of an ancient Roman stadium, on the even of Pope John Paul II's beatification. During the vigil, a nun gave a testimonial saying her Parkinson's disease was cured after praying to the dead pope, who suffered from the disease for the last 12 years of his life. At the historic site, people prayed, sang, and celebrated in anticipation of the pope's sainthood. "He changed my life," said 40-year-old Michael Alfs from Germany. Alfs came from Poland, where the pope helped fight communism and reform the country as a democratic republic. An enormous crowd is expected at Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, where Pope Benedict XVI will perform the beatification in Latin, declaring the deceased pope a "blessed" of the church. "The church does not make saints," said the pope's longtime spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls to the crowd at the Circus Maximus. "It just recognizes that a person lived a saintly life. John Paul was already a saint."