Former pope, John Paul II, close to being declared a saint

His canonisation is likely to be on 20 October, just after the 35th anniversary of his election

Milan

The inexplicable recovery of a Costa Rican woman who had severe brain damage could be the second miracle that will ensure that the former pope, John Paul II, is declared a saint. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced that it had verified a second miracle by the late Polish pontiff that “would cause amazement”.

Il Giornale newspaper quoted Vatican sources as saying the event in question is the woman’s recovery. Further details of the alleged second miracle have not been released. It was claimed however, that the event represented a “double miracle” because in addition to the woman being cured, the wavering faith of the family was restored.

The apparent miracle took place on 1 May 2011, the day of John Paul’s beatification – the penultimate step before sainthood, for which another miracle is also required.

Vatican investigators said a French nun’s recovery in 2005 from Parkinson’s disease was the first miracle. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, 48, claimed that her Parkinson’s symptoms had vanished the morning after her whole order prayed on her behalf, as she scribbled the Pope’s name on a piece of paper.

Following the approval of the second miracle by the board of theologians, the next step in John Paul’s canonisation process will be verification by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ commission of cardinals and bishops, which is due to meet in the coming weeks. If they verify the miracle, it’s then up to Pope Francis to sign the canonisation decree and establish the date for the ceremony in St Peter’s Square, which is expected to be 20 October. This would fall close to the 35th anniversary of John Paul II’s election as pope.

If the popular Polish pontiff, born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, is named a saint by the end of this year, then his status will have risen from blessed to that of a saint in record time – faster even than the progress of Padre Pio, who was beatified in May 1999 and declared a saint in June 2002.

Saverio Gaeta, who wrote a biography of John Paul II, told La Stampa newspaper: “The canonisation of Karol Wojtyla will be the crowning glory of recent Catholic history, linking the last three pontificates.”

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