The overgrowing popularity of Pope John Paul the Second has been causing problems for traffic police in Rome.
The overgrowing popularity of Pope John Paul the Second has been causing problems for traffic police in Rome. Ever since his election to the Papacy last October, huge crowds have attended his personal appearances in the city. The Pope's weekly audience in St. Peter's Square attracts record numbers of people -- and roads in the centre of the city are blocked for hours with the cars of the faithful and the coaches ferrying tourists to the Vatican.
SYNOPSIS: Rome's streets have been increasingly jammed in recent years with the growth of the tourist industry. Although the attraction of St. Peter's Basilica and Michaelangelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel go some way to explain Rome's traffic chaos, the situation has become markedly worse since the election of Pope John Paul. Previous occupants of St. Peter's throne have been popular. Pope John the Twenty-third once held public audiences in the relatively small Vatican Hall, and a modern building with room for eighteen thousand pilgrims had to be built beside St. Peter's to accommodate the people flocking to see him.
Despite the popularity of some of his predecessors, Vatican officials have been reported to say that the new Pope has established an unprecedented following. One hundred and fifty thousand people regularly turn up in St. Peter's Square for his Wednesday audience???, when he circles the crowd by jeep. While the Vatican must be pleased at the warmth of the Pope's reception whenever he appears in public - the traffic police have yet to find a solution to the side-effect of his popularity.