When Fran Landry and Nancy Malo attended a group audience with Pope John Paul II in 2001, the two women barely knew each other, and Landry was a smoker. Today, the New Hampshire residents still correspond via email, and Landry hasn’t smoked a cigarette in more than 13 years.
Landry, of Sandown, said the two were brought together through happenstance. Landry was in the process of planning for a trip to Rome. When her husband, Paul, was making copies at Staples, he ran into Malo. The two struck up a conversation, and soon Malo and her neighbor were on board for the trip.
“There were just so many miracles, the way it worked out was just really something else. You could see God working,” Landry said.
Landry, who is employed as a page designer for The Eagle-Tribune, credits her success quitting smoking to her experience in Pope John Paul II’s presence. She said she thinks he might have had something to do with the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, too, since Landry and her group smuggled a Red Sox hat into the audience with the Pope.
Today, joint sanctification of popes John Paul II and John XXIII is expected to draw up to 1 million pilgrims and tourists to Rome this weekend.
John Paul II, born in Poland as Karol Wojtyla, led the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, while John XXIII, born Angelo Roncalli in Italy, presided from 1958 to 1963. Both are hugely popular figures among the faithful.
Dozens of world leaders are also expected to attend the canonization Mass that Pope Francis is due to celebrate in Saint Peter’s Square.
More than 1 million picture cards of the soon-to-be-saints had been prepared for the crowds, who will be spread out between the Vatican, its surroundings, and other major public spaces in the Italian capital, such as Piazza Navona.