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Sunday Times STLive By Reuters, 2011-02-19

Vatican to put pope's coffin on show

Pope John Paul II lies in state in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican in this April 6, 2005 file photo.
Image: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis/File

The faithful attending the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome will be able to pray at his coffin, which will be exhumed for the event, the Vatican has said.

The Roman Catholic Church warned its members around the world not to fall prey to fraudsters, particularly on the internet, who are selling tickets to the beatification ceremony on May 1.

"For the beatification mass of Pope John Paul II ... no tickets are required," the Vatican said.

Italian and church officials say more than a million people may attend the mass at which John Paul, who died in 2005, will be declared a blessed of the church and move one step closer to sainthood.

The night before the ceremony, a vigil will be held at the Circus Maximus, a race track in ancient times.

After the beatification mass in St Peter's Square, John Paul's wooden coffin will be placed before the main altar inside St Peter's Basilica and remain there until everyone who wants to has seen it.

A thanksgiving mass will be held in the square on May 2, and then his remains will be moved to their new resting place in a side chapel of the basilica.

To be beatified, a dead person must have prompted a miracle. The Church says a 49-year-old French nun was cured of Parkinson's disease months after John Paul's death after she prayed to him.

For John Paul to become a saint, the church must declare that a second miracle occurred after the beatification ceremony.