April 13, 2005
Rome

The Vatican released some pretty amazing numbers this week that have been mostly overlooked in the coverage of the mourning for Pope John Paul II and the search for his successor.

The Vatican's press office has given out 6,000 media accreditations for journalists over the past couple of weeks. I don't know if that includes mine, which I applied for but haven't picked up yet. I'm using a generic one issued by the Vatican that's worked so far.

The Vatican can't say how many television stations broadcast the funeral, but 137 networks in 81 countries said they would. Vatican radio provided a live feed in seven languages that connected to hundreds of radio stations in America and Europe, and a live streaming website had 1.3 million visitors during the ceremony. According to the New York Post, Mel Gibson sent a crew to Vatican City to film the funeral for a movie he plans to make on the pope's life and death.

8,000 volunteers worked that day, and another 12,000 safety personnel (police, soldiers, and "specialists") were on duty across the city. 1,000 firefighters were standing by, while six helicopters patrolled the skies: two police, two carabinieri, and two with the armed forces.
There were 4,000 medical "interventions," mostly for people in the up-to-three-mile long line to view the pope's body. With waits averaging 13 hours, and actually lasting as long as 24 hours, people were dehydrated, undernourished or wilting in the heat.

1,000 special trains were added to the normal routes to help handle the influx of pilgrims transporting a total of 800,000 people. 29 wide-projector screens were set up across Rome for the huge numbers of people who couldn't squeeze into St. Peter’s square. Three million bottles of water were given away, and 3,600 Porta Potties were set up, but one person waiting to view the pope's body told me they had to sneak back in line after leaving to use the bathroom.

I’m not sure how many people will turn out for the conclave, but I’m told there will likely be a few thousand willing to spend their days and evenings in the square, waiting to hear bells ring and see white smoke curl from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel. They'll welcome the next pope as he appears in the window to bless the faithful and begin his papal reign.

I’m glad I’ll be here to see this bit of history being made.

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Rome is a beautiful city, with cobblestone streets and a deep history. Many of the buildings are hundreds of years old, and some of the castles and ruins date back a couple thousand years, including the Colosseum, which I had a chance to visit earlier this week.

There are coffee shops on almost every block, but I haven't seen a Starbucks yet.

E-mail Rick!

[Ed. note: Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports.]

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Rick,

I've enjoyed both your reports on FNC and your "rambles" during your stay in Rome. Yes, there are thousands of coffee shops in Rome, all selling kick-you-in-the-pants coffee in little tiny cups.

If you are still in Rome or go back sometime, try to visit the Capuchin Crypt beneath the Capuchin Church of the Immaculate Conception. It's located on Via Veneto, near Barbarini Square and is amazing. I've never seen anything so strange or beautiful at the same time - it would be great if you could do a story on it.

Hope you enjoyed Rome a bit. Thanks again!
— Cat (Durham, NC)


Please thank everyone in charge at FOX News... I shall remember you all in my prayers so that you continue to do the marvelous reporting that you do each day. Thank you!

— Rosemary


Dear Mr. Leventhal,

Thank you so much for your outstanding work in Rome. As a college student, it has been difficult to be away from my parents and brothers during this time of grief, but I felt united with my family on account of your reporting and FOX's wonderful coverage. I would also like to take this opportunity to comment on your fantastic reporting in Iraq. Thank you for telling it like it is.


Ginna
University of Notre Dame


Rick:

Thanks for the well-written commentary. It was a great conclusion to a joyous week. You sure cover the globe.

— Tom


Excellent report on your trip. You actually made me feel like I was walking with you through your journey to see the Pope. Great writing. SCV


Rick,

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. What a beautiful tribute.

— Maggie (Natchez,MS)


Thanks for the wonderful account of your visit to see the Holy Father. This past week has been rough for me, and for many, it seems. I'm not even Catholic, but my heart is filled with a great sadness at the loss of this shining example of what is good in our troubled world. Your story assures me that I am not alone.

— Michael (Farragut, TN)