The Eternal City is bracing itself. Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican agency for pilgrims, says “this is an event that Rome has never seen in its history – the canonisation of two popes in the presence of two living popes”.
Vatican insiders, however, say that Super-Sunday, which will mark the canonisation of the two of the best-known and best-loved Popes, will be the old-school Catholic Church’s last hurrah; a final show of pomp and ceremony, set in motion by Pope Benedict XVI well before his resignation.
The “best loved” epitaph applies to former Pope John Paul II. As evidence of his popularity, Roman authorities have cited the 1,500 coachloads of pilgrims that are expected to arrive from Poland alone.
John Paul II was the charismatic Polish pontiff, we’re told, who helped defeat communism. But according to critics he was slow to act on allegations of sexual abuse. Hence the question marks over him being awarded speedy boarding to Sainthood.
The other neo-saint, “Good” Pope John XXIII, was seen as a reformer. His crusade for equality is thought to explain why incumbent Pontiff, Pope Francis, “the People’s Pope” has broken with tradition and declared him a fall-blown saint without the evidence of a second miracle.