Roses, Olive and Cypress Trees to Decorate St. Peter´s Square for John Paul II's Beatification

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
30 Apr 2011

Rome has already seen the arrival of thousands of pilgrims. Their first destination is St. Peter's Square, which is under way for the beatification of John Paul II. The preparations began on Wednesday after the general audience and will end on Saturday.

Federico Sarrechia
Vatican Apostolic florist
"They have changed the sections. At first they planned to place 3,500 seats in each of the six sections. Now they have created two large sections with 5,000 seats in each."

They have also placed another 2,000 seats to each side of the altar. For a total of 12,000 seats for the first pilgrims to arrive in the square.

The Vatican workers began this task one day late because of Wednesday's rain. The team of 30 is responsible for decorating the altar steps with 700 boxwood plants, 600 lavender flowers and 15 cypress trees measuring over 15 feet high.

Danilo Bigini
Vatican Gardener
"There are about 20,000 roses that will adorn the square, as well as garlands of about 20 feet high, that will hang from the main balcony and the two side balconies, which is where the image of John Paul II will be."

The architect who designed it wanted to recreate a Renaissance garden.

Ettore Tricarco
Architect, author of Garden Design
"We wanted to pay tribute to John Paul II showing how much he loved nature and walking in the mountains. So we created a binomial with nature as a material and as an instrument, which the pope loved so much. He was a great man and a great instrument of God."

More than 20,000 white, orange and yellow roses will be placed on the facade of St. Peter's.

Ettore Tricarco
Architect, author of Garden Design
"There will also be compositions in red and multicolored, all very sober. Because they didn't want to undermine the importance the ceremony."

Vatican technicians also giving a final clean the fountains in the square.

For this special occasion, on Wednesday a giant image of John Paul II was placed on the left side of Bernini's Colonnade.

The right side of the colonnade is adorned with 27 banners of the best photograph from each year of the pope's pontificate. 

At the far end of the plaza an image of the Virgin Mary has been erected, the symbol of his pontificate. The square also has a large screen, which for one week has been playing the most well known scenes of the soon to be blessed.