Pope John Paul II will be made a saint before the end of the year, making his progression to sainthood the fastest in modern times, the Vatican announced today.
Two miracles are usually required before a candidate can be considered for sainthood, and Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed today that the curing of a Costa Rican woman's aneurism has now been attributed to John Paul.
His intercession had already been credited with curing a French nun of Parkinson's disease, which John Paul himself suffered from, and this miracle led to his beatification in 2011.
He was the first Polish pope, and the first non-Italian pope for 455 years, reigning from 1978-2005. He is often referred to as the "globe-trotting pope", and made over a hundred international excursions to inspire a generation of worldwide Catholics about their faith.
John Paul is expected to share his canonization ceremony with that of Pope John XXIII, who was known as the "good pope" and reigned from 1958 to 1963.
Though a popular reformist figure in his time, John XXIII has only ever been credited with a single miracle, and Rev. Lombardi said it was a mark of the authority of Pope Francis that he could override the normal rules in the saint-making process.
The news of John Paul's canonisation has been met with celebration in Poland, where he is particularly revered. Rev. Kazimierz Sowa, the head of Religion TV channel, told TVN that Poles are expected to flood to Rome for the ceremony.
"John Paul II was extremely popular during his lifetime and he still continues to inspire people," Sowa said. But he insisted that an October date was preferable, to accommodate the throngs expected at the outdoor ceremony.
"In their interest, I think we should expect the canonization in the fall," he said.
The Vatican has said that October, which would coincide with the 35th anniversary of John Paul becoming Pope, may be too soon to organise such a large event. Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church, has been suggested as a possibility.
The circumstances of John Paul's second miracle remain mysterious, with the Vatican refusing to give away many details beyond the fact that it concerned a Costa Rican woman.
The Spanish newspaper La Razon has identified her as Floribeth Mora, and said she suffered from a cerebral aneurism that was inexplicably cured on May 1, 2011 - the day of John Paul's beatification, when 1.5 million people filled St. Peter's Square to honor the beloved Polish pontiff.
La Razon quoted her doctor, Dr Alejandro Vargas, as saying: "It surprised me a lot that the aneurism disappeared, I can't explain it based on science."
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