The Vatican has launched Facebook and YouTube pages devoted to late pope John Paul II, who is to be put on the path to sainthood at a mass on May 1 set to be attended by 2.5 million people.

The pages are being managed by the Vatican television centre and Vatican radio, and the YouTube page carries archive footage of John Paul's pontificate.

The YouTube page on Monday showed that the videos had only been watched by up to 100 people.

The Facebook page had 133 fans.

John Paul's coffin, which is currently in a crypt under Saint Peter's, will lie in state in Saint Peter's basilica for the beatification ceremony on May 1 to allow pilgrims to pay their respects.

He will then be buried inside the basilica near Michelangelo's famous Pieta sculpture of the Virgin Mary with a dead Jesus Christ in her arms.

John Paul died in 2005 and was succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI.