The city of Rome received over 800,000 faithful for the canonization ceremony of John XXIII and John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. Many of those in atendance were from John Paul’s native Poland — the crowd filled St. Peter’s, the streets around it and bridges over the Tiber River, a huge turnout but only half the size of the crowd that came out for John Paul’s 2011 beatification.
The canonization was also attended by delegations from more than 100 countries and at least 24 Heads of State. And while it was supposed to be a canonization for two popes, it was clear that the vast majority of people who turned out were there for John Paul.
During the Mass, it was noted that Pope Francis seemed to take a deep breath and paused for a moment before reciting the declaration of sainthood in Latin:
“We declare and define as saints the blessed John XXII and John Paul II,” the Catholic leader said in a Latin prayer, as pilgrims and foreign dignitaries massed in St Peter’s Square applauded and chanted: “Amen!”
As soon as he did so, applause broke out from a crowd in St. Peter’s and beyond.
Bishop Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican pilgrimage office commenting on this unprecedented event, remarked: “Never in the history of Rome or in the history of the world has this occurred: two Pope Saints and two living Popes who knew them!
Italians reveling in the festive atmosphere of the day called it the 4 Pope day. This is a historic day saying they are followers of all four popes who have all been close to the people.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attended the Canonization Mass. The Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI accepted the invitation and communicated to Pope Francis that he will attend the Mass.
Pope Francis embraced him warmly before and after the ceremony and Benedict XVI con-celebrated along with hundreds of bishops and cardinals — the first time that two living popes have ever said Mass together.
It must be noted that the Pope Emeritus con-celebrated. He was not at the Altar; rather he was there with the Cardinals and Bishops on the left side of the Sanctuary.
The Holy See Press Office recently released two official images of the newly canonized saints. The images depict them with the halo of sanctity. The halo is permitted solely for those who are canonized. The images of the saints were be printed and distributed several weeks earlier. Each image contains a prayer for the intercession of the pontiffs.
“Oh Saint John Paul, from the window of Heaven grant us your blessing! Bless the Church that you have loved, served and guided, pushing Her with courage towards the paths of the world to bring Christ to all, and all to Christ.”
“Oh Saint John Paul,” the prayer concludes, “from the window of Heaven, where we see you next to Mary, send down upon us all the blessing of God. Amen.”
“Your simple and meek persona carried the scent of God and the desire of goodness was inflamed in the heart.” The prayer concludes: “Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to mourn the darkness but rather to en-kindle the light, bringing Christ everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.”
Saints John Paul II & John XXIII– Ora pro nobis!