Italy, Rome

April 29, 2014

Italy, Rome: Representatives of the Congregation of Marian Fathers at the Ceremony of Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II

Huge tapestries bearing portraits of the two saints hung from the facade of St. Peter’s basilica, and the square was decorated with 30,000 roses and other flowers.

In addition to Pope-emeritus Benedict, Pope Francis’ concelebrants included some 150 cardinals and 700 bishops.

Canonizing two recent popes, Pope Francis praised the new Saints John XXIII and John Paul II as men of courage and mercy, who responded to challenges of their time by modernizing the Catholic Church in fidelity to its ancient traditions. “John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her original features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries,” the Holy Father said in his homily.

During the canonization ceremony devotees carried up relics of the new saints in matching silver reliquaries, which Pope Francis kissed before they were placed on a small table for veneration by the congregation. St. John’s relic was a piece of the late pope’s skin, removed when his body was transferred to its present sarcophagus in the main sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Floribeth Mora Diaz, a Costa Rican woman whose recovery from a brain aneurysm was recognized by the church as a miracle attributable to the intercession of St. John Paul II, brought up a silver reliquary containing some of the saint’s blood, taken from him for medical testing shortly before his death in 2005.

According to estimates, approximately 1 million attended the ceremony in Rome. The 2011 beatification of Pope John Paul II drew more than 1 million people, according to Italian police estimates at the time. 93 countries sent official delegations to the Mass, and more than 30 of the delegations were led by a president or prime minister. The current king and queen of Spain and the former king and queen of Belgium were in attendance. The Congregation of Marian Fathers was represented at the ceremony by its General Superior, Fr. Andrzej Pakuła and the group of confreres who arrived for the ceremony of canonization from the Philippines, India, Cameroon, Rwanda, Poland, and the United States.

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