UK & World News

  • 27 April 2014, 22:05

Two Popes Made Saints In Historic Ceremony

Almost one million people gathered at Vatican City for a historic day in the Roman Catholic Church as two former Popes were declared saints.

The canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII†took place in the presence of two living pontiffs, Pope Francis and his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

The unprecedented double canonisation was presided over by Pope Francis in St Peter's Square and watched by millions around the world.

He believes the two men revitalised the Church, and has bent years of tradition allowing them to be celebrated on the same day.

Sky's Robert Nisbet, in Vatican City, said: "There are enormous crowds here.

"They are estimating up to one million people could be crowding around Vatican City and the centre of Rome to be part of this event.

"And certainly they've come from all over the world. There's a huge contingent from Poland here - John Paul II obviously still a hero figure to many."

Pope Francis and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who is rarely seen in public and last year became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down, hugged briefly as the two-hour mass began.

During the service, which began under light rain, relics of†Popes John Paul II and John XXIII†were taken to the altar, and their sainthoods†requested three times.

Floribeth Mora, said to be the recipient of John Paul II's second miracle, was one of many who took part in the ceremony, which is estimated to have cost £6m.

She suffered an aneurysm and was told she had just one month to live, but after seeing John Paul II's beatification ceremony in 2011, she claimed the pain disappeared.

About 850 cardinals and bishops celebrated mass and 700 priests distributed communion to the huge crowd.

"We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church," Pope Francis said in his formal proclamation in Latin about 30 minutes into the service.

Pope Francis later toured St Peter's Square in his Popemobile - †deeper into the crowds than his predecessors.

Nisbet said it was an attempt to be seen as "less staid" than previous Popes and "to be more down with the people".

Scholars see the double Canonisation as an attempt by Pope Francis to unite modernists and traditionalists in the faith.

Both popes helped shape the second half of the 20th century.

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963, convened the famous second Vatican council - a key moment in the modernisation of the Church.

John Paul II, who reigned for 26 years, saw the fall of communism in his home country of Poland and played a leading role on the world stage.

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