(PCM) History was made today in Vatican City when Pope Francis canonized both Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. This history making declaration of sainthood took place this morning in front of over 800,000 people. What made the ceremony all the more memorable was that emeritus Pope Benedict XVI also made an appearance in St. Peter’s Square.
Throughout the course of history, there has never been an occurrence where the reigning pope and the retired pope celebrated Mass together in a public forum. Add to it the fact that they are honoring their incredibly famous predecessors makes it all the more of a rare situation.
According to many sources the presence of Pope Benedict XVI assists to further cement Pope Francis’ vision to bring about unity to the Catholic Church. That also happens to be the reasoning behind the dual canonization for both Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II as they were beloved figures to both liberals and conservatives alike.
The canonization of Pope John Paul II was sped up with the assistance of Pope Benedict XVI and his canonization is now ranked as the fastest in modern times. The rules for acquiring sainthood were also altered a bit by Pope Francis to allow Pope John Paul II’s canonization to take place. Pope John Paul II had not yet had the second miracle occur which is usually required for canonization.
Over 500,000 people were packed into St. Peter’s square to watch the canonization in person and an estimated 300,000 more were watching TV screens set up around the city. Kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers from more than 90 countries attended.
Unfortunately tragedy did strike just days prior to the historic canonization ceremony when a giant crucifix that was dedicated to Pope John Paul II collapsed and killed a 21-year old student named Marco Gusmini. The 98-foot wooden and concrete cross was located in the Italian Alpine village of Cervo. Another man sustained injuries as well and was taken to a local hospital.