Pope Francis has declared Popes John Paul II and John XXIII saints in a ceremony attended by hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter Square.
Pope Francis praised his two predecessors as “men of courage” at the Vatican service, the first time in history that two popes have been canonized at the same time.
The Mass was attended by Pope Emeritus Benedict, who quit as pope last year, and roughly 100 foreign delegations.
Analysts say Pope Francis is trying to balance the conservative legacy of John Paul with the reforming zeal of John.
At the climax of the service, Pope Francis said in Latin: “We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”
Relics of each man – a container of blood from John Paul and a piece of skin from John – were placed near the altar.
Pope Francis paid tribute to the two new saints 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,” he said.
The Vatican estimated some 800,000 pilgrims had poured into Rome to see the two-hour ceremony first-hand.
For those unable to make it into St Peter’s Square, giant screens were set up in nearby streets and elsewhere in the city.
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