John Paul II to be made a saint alongside John XXVI next year, announces Pope Francis

The third longest-serving pope in history, John Paul II created more saints than all the previous popes put together

Former pope John Paul II will be made a saint next year, his successor-but-one Pope Francis has announced.

The canonisation will be on 27 April 2014, the same day as that of John XXVI. Francis announced the date during a meeting with cardinals inside the Apostolic Palace.

The third longest-serving pope in history, John Paul II was born in Wadowice, southern Poland. He died in 2005, aged 84, to be replaced by Benedict XVI. Whilst leader of the world's Catholics, he was hugely popular, and created more saints than all the previous popes put together.

Both he and the incumbent, Pope Francis, broke the mould upon their elections. Both rank outsiders during the electoral conclave, John Paul was the first non-Italian pontiff for 450 years, while Francis became the first ever Latin American pope.

The Argentine has recently approved a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession. And though an approved miracle is normally a necessary condition for sainthood, he has bent Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII doesn't need one.

The Italian John XXVI had a five-year papacy, which began in 1958. It was marked by the second Vatican council, which revolutionised the church in the 1960s.

Analysts have said the decision to canonise them together was aimed at unifying the church since each has his own admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of conservative John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

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