Pope John Paul II Friday prepared for a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay - his ninth visit in just over nine years to Latin America, home to nearly half the world's 840 million Roman Catholics.

John Paul will leave early Saturday on his trip to 18 cities in Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay during the 12-day trip. He is to deliver 54 sermons, two "acts of faith" to the Virgin Mary and four taped messages for television. He also will canonize three saints.