Preparations for Pope Francis visit to Romania near end, throne built for the occasion
A wooden throne covered with white velvet and gold elements has been built for the visit of Pope Francis in the city of Blaj, one of the places he will visit during his stay in Romania, Mediafax reported. The Pope will visit Romania between May 31 and June 2.
The Pope will stand on it during the ceremony at the Câmpia Libertăţii in Blaj, where the service to beatify seven Greek-Catholic bishops who died in Romania during the Communist regime will take place. The throne was built by Andu Mărginean, a graduate of the Arts University of Bucharest.
The wood was selected from the prisons in Sighet and Gherla, and the design references the ordeal of detention and the suffering and dying for Christ, the organizers of the visit explained. During the Communist period, political prisoners were held in both Sight and Gherla. At the same time, the gold stands for “the homage to God”, while the white velvet represents “the purity of Christian thought and feeling.”
The preparations for the Pope’s visit to Blaj are within schedule, Blaj mayor Gheorghe Rotar told Mediafax. The three parking lots built at the city’s entrances from Alba Iulia, Târgu Mureş and Sibiu are almost finalized, and works are underway at the finishing touches for the stage set up at Câmpia Libertăţii.
“The preparations are within schedule although we encountered significant difficulties because of the weather conditions. The parking lots are 90% finished. Câmpia Libertăţii is at 80% but the three days we still have will allow us to be able to welcome the over 50,000 people, and, of course, His Sanctity, in the best of conditions,” the mayor said.
He also explained that roads were repaired in the city for the visit and the parks were refurbished. Câmpia Libertăţii will have first-aid points, ecological toilets, and a food area. Eight large-size screens will also be set up to allow people to watch the religious service. On the day of the Pope’s visit, on June 2, the selling and consumption of alcoholic beverages is forbidden.
The Pope will reach Blaj by helicopter, from Sibiu.
The preparations are nearing the end in Şumuleu Ciuc also, where Pope Francis will deliver a religious service at the Marian Sanctuary there. Some 180,000 people are expected to attend, and Hungary’s president, Ader Janos, will also be present.
“We are expecting 110,000 people who registered, and another 70,000 without a ticket, who can enter the area where the Holly Liturgy will be delivered. The service will be broadcast on large-size screens set up in the areas where the pilgrims will have access,” priest Veres Stelian, who is in the organizing committee, told Mediafax.
Meanwhile, over 75,000 people registered to attend the Pope’s visit in Iaşi, another city he will visit while in Romania. Iaşi mayor Mihai Chirica told Mediafax that all needed measures were taken to allow pilgrims and visitors to enter the city, park the buses, reach the place of the event and return.
Special areas were also designed for those who will not go through security filters but will be able to watch the events on the screens set up in the area.
“We have prepared the entire plan of measures, regarding the needed bans for the event. We did not overdo it, meaning that women with children will be able to keep the strollers, water, juice or tea for the children, reasonably-sized umbrellas, small-sized luggage and whatever else might be needed for a comfortable stay. If it rains, we have 30,000 rain capes ready,” Chirica said.
The terraces in Iaşi will not serve alcoholic beverages on the day of the Pope’s visit, mayor Chirica explained.
In Bucharest, people will be able to welcome the Pope in several areas, among them area of the Kiseleff Boulevard, the area in between Arhitect Ion Mincu St and Victoriei Square, where the popemobile will run at low speed, and in the area of the St Iosif Cathedral, Calea Victoriei and Revoluţiei Square, after the service he will deliver at the St. Iosif Cathedral.
For the duration of his stay, he will be accommodated at the la Apostolic Nunciature in Bucharest, where Pope John Paul II also stayed during his visit in the country.
He is expected to arrive on the Otopeni airport at around 11:30. From there, he will go to Cotroceni Palace, for a welcome ceremony. Pope Francis will leave Romania on June 2, around 17:30, from the Sibiu airport.