Vatican Declares Popes John Paul II And John XXIII Saints

A mass co-celebrated by Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict was watched by roughly 1 million pilgrims.

1. Popes John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized Sunday by Pope Francis in a ceremony witnessed by huge crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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2. The mass was co-celebrated by Pope Francis’ predecessor Benedict and was watched by roughly 1 million pilgrims and a vast TV and radio audience.

AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis
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3. Some waited for more than 12 hours along the main street leading to the Vatican before police opened up the square at 5:30 a.m.

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4. Nearly 100 foreign delegations attended, including royal dignitaries and heads of state and government.

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Belgium’s King Albert II (left) and Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia sit in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 27.

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5. It’s the first time two popes have been canonised at once.

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6. Some analysts say the move is an attempt to unite conservative and reformist camps within the Roman Catholic Church.

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

John XXIII is seen as the pope who set off the reform movement, while John Paul II is felt to be the pope who applied the brakes.

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7. The majority of the pilgrims were Polish.

AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

Many of them carried red and white flags, a reflection of the affection felt for John Paul II in his homeland, Poland.

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8. John Paul II’s canonization is one of the quickest in modern times.

Agencja Gazeta / Reuters

Pope Benedict waived a rule that normally requires a five-year waiting period before the preliminaries to sainthood can even begin.

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Alan White is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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