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Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII to be made saints

The long road to sainthood normally requires two confirmed miracles, however, John XXIII only has one.

Pope John Paul II greeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1997.
Pope John Paul II greeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1997.
Image: (AP Photo/Arturo Mari/HO)

Updated 21:53

POPE FRANCIS GAVE the go-ahead earlier today for John Paul II to be made saint and granted a rare exception for canonisation at the same time for John XXIII, who shares the current pontiff’s reformist views and personal touch.

The announcement marked a historic day at the Vatican, which also issued an unprecedented text co-written by Francis and his living predecessor Benedict XVI in which the two popes said faith was a “common good” and called for dialogue with non-believers.

The Vatican said Francis gave his widely expected formal approval to a second miracle attributed to John Paul II (1978-2005) at a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Pope John Paul II prays in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in Cathedral Basilica on 27 January, 1999. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

The supposed miracle occurred to a woman in Costa Rica, the Vatican said, following media reports that she had been cured of a serious brain condition by praying for the late pope’s intercession on the same day that he was beatified in 2011.

John Paul II was hugely popular through his 27-year papacy, and helped topple Communism although he alienated many Catholics with his conservative views and was blamed for hushing up multiple scandals over paedophile priests.

At his funeral in 2005, crowds of mourners cried “Santo Subito!” – which roughly translates as “Sainthood Now!” – prompting the Vatican to speed up the path to sainthood, which normally begins five years after the death of the person in question.

Pope John XXIII pictured on 27 May, 1963. (S&G/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive)

In the case of John XXIII (1958-1963), Francis “approved the favourable votes” from the Congregation for the canonisation even though no second miracle has been found, in a break with the usual procedure.

The long road to sainthood normally requires two “confirmed” miracles, the first of which is necessary for beatification, a hurdle the Polish pope cleared just six months after his death.

That was the healing of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, whose recovery from Parkinson’s disease after praying for the late John Paul II’s intercession apparently had no medical explanation.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi makes the announcement during a press conference at the Vatican today. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

The announcement on John XXIII was greeted with bells ringing out in a parish church in the village of Sotto Il Monte in northern Italy where he came from.

A consistory, a meeting of cardinals, will now be held to determine the exact date for the canonisations but Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said they would take place “before the end of the year”.

- © AFP 2013.

First published 15:20

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