Two popes canonised as saints
POPE Francis yesterday proclaimed as saints his influential predecessors John Paul II and John XXIII, at a historic ceremony attended by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square.
It was the first double canonisation of pontiffs since the Middle Ages. In the past 700 years, only two other popes have become saints, Pius V in 1712 and Pius X in 1954, making yesterday's double celebration a unique event in the Roman Catholic Church's recent history.
"We declare and define as saints the blessed John XXIII and John Paul II," the Catholic leader said in a Latin prayer, as pilgrims and foreign dignitaries applauded and chanted "Amen!"
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 87, who is the first pontiff to step down since the Middle Ages, made a rare public appearance in his white papal cassock and Pope Francis embraced him before the ceremony.
Commentators defined the event as a "four-pope day".