The Blessed Pope John Paul II was canonized in an historic event at Vatican City, Sunday, April 27th, 2014. The event was special because it marked the first time a dual papal canonization had ever occurred (Pope John XXIII was also declared a saint). The current Pope Francis presided over the event, which was witnessed by a huge audience.
The event was historic for another reason: it is very rare that two living pontiffs are in attendance at such an event. It marked the first time that a retired and a reigning Pope celebrated Mass together in a public setting, as well as being present at the canonization (Pope Benedict XVI was also present).
Pope Francis made the saint-making declaration in Latin. He also said that he had asked for divine assistance before stating “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.”
Pope Francis described the pair as “men of courage” who bore witness to God’s mercy. “They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” he said. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful, faith was more powerful.”
To become a saint, there are a number of standards that the Pope had to meet. This is a complex process, which the Catholic Church undergoes when considering sainthood. The Pope met the qualifications, including the act of a miracle.
The woman who cited the miracle, Floribeth Mora of Costa Rica, was present in St. Peter’s Square, and handed a relic of John Paul II to Pope Francis during the canonization Mass. She claimed that she was cured of a serious brain condition by a miracle attributed to the Pope.
The Blessed Pope John Paul II reigned from 1978-2005, making him one of the longest serving, and most loved in Catholic history. He was the spiritual leader during some very important historic events, such as the downfall of Communism. He is especially remembered as a strong supporter of Poland’s Solidarity movement during those difficult times.
The crowds present in and around St. Peter’s Square were said to be 800,000, according to Vatican Radio. They also stated that another 500,000 people were watching giant TV screens around Rome.
After 27 years of service, Pope John Paul II wanted to be remembered as “Pope of the family”, said Pope Francis.