By: Marion V. Ali
Popes John Paul II and John XXIII are now saints. Pope Francis declared the deceased pontiffs saints today at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome in front of hundreds of thousands watching worldwide.
He praised his two predecessors as “men of courage” during the historic canonisation. This is the first time that two popes have been declared saints in one day.
Pope Emeritus Benedict, who resigned in that capacity one year ago was present to witness the event, as were roughly 100 foreign delegations.
The Vatican estimated some 800,000 pilgrims to be present to see the two-hour ceremony first-hand. Huge screens were installed at strategic points in the city to accommodate those who couldn’t make it into Saint Peter’s Square.
The BBC reports that analysts say Pope Francis “is trying to balance the conservative legacy of John Paul with the reforming zeal of John.” John XXIII, an Italian Pontiff, is seen as a liberal, while John Paul II, a Polish, was viewed as quite the opposite, but both popes were influential personalities in the story of modern Catholicism. Their canonisation on the same day is seen as an attempt to draw together the liberal and the more traditional wings of the Church.
Relics of the two saints, a container of blood from John Paul and a piece of skin from John, were placed near the altar during today’s ceremony.
(Pic Credit: Reuters)