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The Boston Globe

World

Analysis | John L. Allen Jr.

Sainthood for two popes more Woodstock than World’s Fair

Whatever its other problems may be, the Vatican has always had a terrific sense of theater. Yesterday’s massive canonization ceremony for Popes John XXIII and John Paul II was the latest case in point, a riveting spectacle that drew an estimated one million people to the area around St. Peter’s Square and attracted a worldwide broadcast audience pegged by the Vatican at two billion.

By the standards of showmanship, it was an undeniable hit. The question now is whether it was more akin to the World’s Fair or to Woodstock – in other words, was this just another big event, or a cultural “happening” destined to pass into history as a symbol of broader transformations?

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