Posted by News Express | 26 April 2014 | 3,320 times
Pope John Paul II, whose world travels and 27-year reign made him the most famed and beloved pontiff in modern Catholic Church history, will be made a saint Sunday during a canonization ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.
John Paul visited 129 countries while serving as pope, and the trips drew international attention because of their wide exposure on television and later, the Internet.
His travels included seven US visits, the first coming in 1979 highlighted by Mass at a packed Yankee Stadium.
John Paul will be made a saint along with Pope John XXIII — who reigned from 1958 to 1963 — by Pope Francis during the first twin papal canonization in the church’s history.
In 1978, John Paul, formerly Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, was elected the first non-Italian pope in 450 years.
He was credited with being instrumental in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 because of his steadfast defense of the Solidarity trade union in Poland.
John Paul was nearly killed by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter’s Square in 1981.
And towards the end of his life, his health struggles were witnessed by millions around the world whenever he appeared on TV or in St. Peter’s. He served until his death in 2005.
John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, which modernized the church in many ways, including abandoning the traditional Latin Mass in favor of services in people’s native tongues.
Vatican analyst Robert Mickens said the pair’s impoverished backgrounds gave them a “pastoral sense” that helped explain their huge popularity.
“They did not come from noble families, either one of them, [but from] working-class families and I think they also were two people who had a real sense of humanity,” he told CNN.
While many of the Church’s 1.2 billion members greeted the event with unbridled joy, some critics said elevating John Paul — whose canonization nine years after his death is a modern record — is too hasty.
But more than a million people are expected to flock to Rome for the ceremony at which Francis will raise two of his predecessors to what the church calls “the glory of the altars.”
Large TV screens have been set up around the city to spread out the throngs of the faithful.
Church investigators have credited the duo with interceding with God after their deaths to perform medically inexplicable miracle cures of sick people who prayed to them.
•Text courtesy of The New York Post. Photo shows Pope Francis.
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