Pope canonization coverage in 3D, HDTV, FB, Twitter is a miracle of technology

(Photo: Vatican)

The event was unprecedented. And so was the mass media and social media coverage.

About a million Catholic faithful, pilgrims and visitors converged on the area around St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on April 27 to bear witness as two popes were jointly proclaimed saints, a first in the 2,000-year history of the Roman Catholic Church.

The twin canonization saw the most extensive media coverage of an event in the history of the Catholic Church, a highly conservative institution well known for its secrecy.

Pope John XXIII, hailed as the Good Pope, and Pope John Paul II, also referred to as "John Paul the Great," were canonized as Saints by Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) at elaborate ceremonies witnessed live worldwide on broadcast media, the Internet and social media.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis.

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were the 81st and 82nd Pontiffs to be canonized Saints. There have been 265 Popes since the founding of the Roman Catholic Church, of which the first 25 became Saints.

Saint John XXIII was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000 while Saint Pope John Paul II was beatified in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Saint John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli), who served as Pope from 1958 to 1963, led the greatest reformation of the Church in the 20th century by calling the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II that met from 1962 to 1965.

He was a passionate champion of equality. He took the Church away from the lofty Latin Mass and championed the use of vernacular languages that is the norm today. He served as Pope for less than five years and died before Vatican II was completed.

Pope Francis is a great admirer of Saint John XXIII. "He was courageous, a good country priest, with a great sense of humor and great holiness," Francis has said of Saint Pope John XXIII.

Saint John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła) is the second longest-serving pope in history and the first non-Italian pontiff since Adrian VI who died in 1523. Much loved because of his humility and compassion, John Paul II was one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century.

He helped end Communist rule in his native Poland and all of Europe by 1991. He canonized 483 Saints, more than all the previous pontiffs combined. The ultimate goal of his papacy, which was to place the Catholic Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great (religious) armada, remains unfulfilled.

This historic event in Rome saw scores of trucks are packed with telecommunications gear broadcast the unprecedented canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II during a mass conducted by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square.

The broadcast itself was unprecedented: the event was broadcast to audiences worldwide in ultra high-definition resolution (known as 4K) and in 3D. Pundits said no 3D transmission on such a lavish scale has been attempted before. They expect the broadcast was a big test case for Vatican TV.

The Vatican didn't forget the power of social media to bind its flock. The official Twitter hashtag for the twin canonization was #2popesaints! while the official Twitter page was 2popesaints. There were a large number of Facebook pages dedicated to the event.

The Vatican also released two free "Saint apps" late last week. One of the apps will be for Blessed John XXII and the other for Blessed John Paul II, said Vatican Radio.

Both Saint apps were released by the Catholic Church to share in the historic occasion with information available dedicated to the candidates for sainthood. Users can read biographical information and other publications; become familiar with the canonization process and the good works of both men; read prayers dedicated to the newly sainted and find tourism information for those visiting Vatican City to witness the twin canonizations. The apps were available in English, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The last pontiff canonized was Pope Pius X (Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto) in 1954. Television was still in its infancy and broadcasts were in black and white. Radio was the chief means by which news was broadcast in that time.

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