St. Peter's overflows for historic day of 4 popes

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

VATICAN CITY Pope Francis has declared two of his predecessors, John the 23rd and John Paul the Second, saints in an unprecedented canonization ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict.

Francis recited the saint-making formula in Latin, saying that after deliberating, consulting and praying for divine assistance "we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church."

Benedict was sitting off to the side with other cardinals in St. Peter's Square during the rite at the start of Sunday's Mass. He and Francis briefly greeted one another after Francis arrived.

Tens of thousands of people have filled St. Peter's Square. Polish pilgrims carrying the red and white flags of John Paul's beloved homeland were among the first to press into the square well before sunrise Sunday, held back by human chains of neon-vested civil protection workers trying to maintain order.

Most of those who arrived first had camped out overnight on air mattresses and sleeping pads along the side streets leading to the square. Others hadn't slept at all and took part in the all-night prayer vigils hosted at a dozen churches in downtown Rome.


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