John XXIII and John Paul II canonised by Pope Francis

Hundreds of thousands converge on Vatican

Sun, Apr 27, 2014, 14:05

Pope Francis declared Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II as saints at a ceremony during Mass in Rome’s St Peter’s Square this morning.

Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world had converged on the Vatican to attend the sainthood ceremony of two giants of the Catholic Church in the 20th century. An estimated 3,000 Irish pilgrims are in Rome for the canonisations.

“We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” Pope Francis said in his Mass.

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In a homily, he described Saints John XXIII and John Paul II as “priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century. 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”.

Francis said the two popes had “co-operated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating” the Catholic Church.

“In convening the (Second Vatican) Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the church a pastor, a servant-leader. This was his great service to the church, he was the pope of openness to the spirit,” said the Pope.

He described John Paul II as “the pope of the family” who is guiding the church on a journey towards the Synod on the family later this year and into next year. “It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains,” he said.

“May these two saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the church, so that during our two year journey toward the synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family.”

Among those attending this morning’s Mass was Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, who received a warm round of applause from the assembled crowds as he took his seat before the ceremony. Benedict last year became the first pope to resign in 600 years and now lives in secluded retirement.

Sitting to the left of the sanctuary, he concelebrated the Mass along with 150 cardinals and 750 bishops. They included Ireland’s Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady, the former Archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond Connell, the Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy and the Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O’Reilly, who led 53 pilgrims from that diocese to Rome for the event.

Among the 19 heads of state and 25 heads of government present, as well as official delegations from 90 states , was Taoiseach Enda Kenny.