A painting of Pope John Paul II in Krakow, on the sixth anniversary of his death, 2 April 2011.

“O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II should preside as pope over your universal church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns.”

This is the text of the opening prayer of Mass on the feast day of Blessed John Paul II, which the Vatican announced will be on 22 October. That date marks the liturgical inauguration of his papacy in 1978. Together with this announcement, a set of regulations was published for the celebration of the soon-to-be blessed’s feast day. As is the case for any beatified person’s feast, the celebrations are authorised on a local level, usually in the places where the person in question lived and worked. In this case, these places are the Diocese of Rome and the whole of Poland. In other places in the world, special permission needs to be obtained to insert the feast day into the liturgical calendar. The same goes for naming new parishes and churches after Pope John Paul II; that is for now only authorised in Rome and Poland. If and when someone is canonised and recognised as a saint, these limitations are lifted.

One standard rule regarding the feast days of the beatified will not apply in this case: thanksgiving Masses may be celebrated worldwide within a year after John Paul’s beatification, so no later than 1 May 2012, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has said.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Michal Lepecki/Agencja Gazeta

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