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Published On: Sun, Apr 27th, 2014

Pope Francis canonizes John Paul II, ‘Good Pope’ John XXIII in St Peter’s Square

Pope Francis has proclaimed two of his predecessors — John the 23rd and John Paul the Second — as saints at a ceremony Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

 

Pope John Paul II, 1993 photo public domain

Pope John Paul II, 1993 photo public domain

“They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them,” Pope Francis said in his homily. “For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful — faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history.”

Officials say as many as one million people crowded St. Peter’s and the nearby streets of Rome for the elevation-to-sainthood ceremony.  Francis read the formal proclamation at the canonization Mass also attended by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis took a deep breath, pausing for a moment before reciting the saint-making formula in Latin. He said that after deliberating, consulting and praying for divine assistance “we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church.”

Relics of the two new saints were brought to the altar during the ceremony — John Paul’s blood used in his 2011 beatification, and a small piece of John’s skin taken after his body was exhumed for his 2000 beatification.  Relics are used to help the faithful venerate.

Churches throughout Rome were opened Saturday night, filled with pilgrims from around the world who came to witness the canonization of the two 20th century popes.

John, an Italian also known as the “Good Pope” because of his friendly, open personality, died before the Second Vatican Council ended its work in 1965, but his initiative set off one of the greatest upheavals in church teaching in modern times.  The Council ended the use of Latin at Mass and brought in the use of modern music.

John Paul continued some of the reforms but tightened central control, condemned theological renegades and preached a stricter line on social issues. He will be remembered for having a key role in the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Never before has a reigning and retired pope celebrated Mass together in public, much less at an event honoring two of their most famous predecessors.

Portrait of Pope John XXIII. photo public domain, released by the Vatican

Portrait of Pope John XXIII. photo public domain, released by the Vatican

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