Cumulatively, Rome is probably the travel destination that has seen more visitors than anywhere else. Whether it was trade, administration, or pilgrimage, people have been coming to the Eternal City on a regular basis, upwards of a couple of millenia now.
This weekend, as you all know, was one instance when the usual continuous stream of visitors to the city became a torrent instead. That said, such a torrent happens more often than you would imagine. Two other occasions in the last 15 years (the 2000 Jubilee, and the death of John Paul II) have drawn similar numbers.
(A bit of a tangent I know, but I can’t help but think how satisfied those Ancient Roman engineers would be to know that the road network they built 2,000 years ago is still -figuratively – functioning as designed… as in “If you build it, they will come.”)
And come they did! The canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II this weekend saw upwards of 800,000 people come to celebrate these important 20th century Popes, now Saints. This obviously enormous number of people becomes even more impressive when you realize that it basically increased Rome’s current population temporarily by over 30%.
Numbers aside, what really struck everyone was the incredible mix of the faithful from all over the world…
All roads lead to Rome indeed.