John Paul II made saint
April 28, 2014
Tapestry portraying Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica during the canonization ceremony at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on 27 April
An estimated 800,000 people, including tens of thousands pilgrims from Poland, descended on Rome for the historic canonization ceremony of the Polish-born John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, presided over by Pope Francisco in the Vatican.
Some 500,000 pilgrims and visitors crammed into St Peter's Square, in the Vatican and another 300,000 were watching the event on giant TV screens set up throughout the city of Rome.
Some 150 cardinals, 700 bishops, 24 heads of state, 10 heads of government and 93 official foreign delegations were in attendance.
The Vatican ceremony also drew Polish dignitaries, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk both parliamentary speakers and Lech Walesa, the former president, and founder of Poland’s anti-Communist Solidarity movement, which was strongly supported by John Paul II.
The unprecedented ceremony was made even more historic by the presence of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who succeeded John Paul II in 2005. The Polish pontiff’s beatification was the quickest in modern times because Benedict waived the normal five-year waiting period after death to get his beatification rolling.
The crowds erupted in applause and hundreds of Polish flags were waved when Pope Francis declared as saints the pontiff from Poland who led the Church for almost 27 years before his death in 2005, as well as John XXIII, the Italian pontiff who launched the modernizing Second Vatican Council in 1962.
Bells tolled across Poland and people across John Paul’s homeland applauded in unison with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Thousands of pilgrims and residents gathered in Wadowice, in southern Poland, the hometown of Pope John Paul II, for public viewing of his canonization mass via video screen and an outdoor mass.
About 30,000 pilgrims from around Poland gathered in Cracow to take part in masses and watch a broadcast of the canonization ceremony in front of the Lagiewniki Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, a place frequented by the late pontiff before when he became the Bishop of Cracow.
Masses gathered across the nation, including the Black Madonna Shrine in Czestochowa, Warsaw, Gdansk and other cities.