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Vatican Prepares for Pope's Easter Blessing

The Vatican is preparing for a candlelit vigil mass as Roman Catholics around the world anxiously await the ailing Pope John Paul II's Easter Sunday blessing to the world.

Thousands of pilgrims are expected in Saint Peter's Basilica Saturday to observe Holy Saturday ceremonies and to pray for the 84-year-old pontiff.

The pontiff, who is recovering from throat surgery, will not participate in the vigil, but will preside over the Urbi et Orbi to the city and the world Easter blessing on Sunday.

For the first time in his 26-year papacy, the pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has not been able to preside over Holy Week events.

In a message read at a Good Friday re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus at Rome's Colosseum, Pope John Paul said he was spiritually with the pilgrims attending the ceremony.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.