FLEMINGTON - Record crowds are flocking to the Vatican to see the canonization of two former popes, including a large contingent from New Jersey.
Edita Krunic has been a travel planner for 27 years and says she has never had so many clients rushing to Rome. "Everything is sold out," she says. "It has been sold out for months."
Millions of the faithful will converge on the city this week. On Sunday, John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized, or made saints, by Pope Francis.
The event is drawing pilgrims from around the world and demand is driving up costs for those religious travelers.
"Prices were up about 50 percent over regular prices, and the hotels were demanding full payment for us to reserve space," says Krunic. "This is something that's been unheard of."
Krunic, who specializes in pilgrimages, says she's arranged tours for nearly 100 New Jersey Catholics attending the canonization.
Deacon Tim Kennedy, of Perth Amboy, will be making the trip. He had the opportunity to meet Pope John Paul II in Newark. "I had been in his presence at the Cathedral Basilica when he came in 1995," he says. "He was iconic. I think he was ahead of his time."
Kennedy believes both former popes, soon to be saints, are a model for Catholics in how to live their faith.
With as many as 3 million people expected, the canonization is expected to be the largest event ever held by the Vatican.