1. ITV Report

How Popes John Paul II and John XXIII became saints

John Paul II and John XXIII to become saints today. Photo: Reuters

Pope Francis has chosen to canonise two popes at the same time in an unprecedented open-air ceremony in Rome.

The pontiffs are popular, well-known figures within the Church who made their marks in very different ways. Here's all you need to know about the pontiffs.

John XXIII

  • Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in Bergamo, Italy, he was one of 14 children
  • Pope from 28 October 1958 to his death in 1963
  • Nicknamed "Il Papa Buono" - The Good Pope
  • Known for his sense of humour. When asked “How many people work in the Vatican?” he famously replied, “About half.”
John XXIII was pope for less than five years. Credit: Reuters
  • Modernised Church with reforms such as allowing Mass to be said in native languages rather than traditional Latin
  • Fostered good relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith
  • Credited with performing one miracle since his death - healing a sick nun who had endured 14 surgeries for a gastric hemorrhage
  • Candidates for sainthood usually have to have performed two miracles - Pope Francis has technically "bent the rules" to allow John XXIII to become a saint because of his huge popularity.

Pope John Paul II

  • Born Karol Józef Wojty?a in Wadowice, Poland
  • Pope from 16 October 1978 to his death in 2005
  • Nicknamed Blessed John Paul
  • First non-Italian Pope in 455 years
  • Survived an assassination attempt in 1981 in Vatican City, later visiting the gunman in jail and forgiving him
Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church for 27 years. Credit: Reuters
  • Recognised with helping to bring about collapse of communism
  • Travelled more than any other Pope - visiting more than 120 countries
  • Credited with performed two miracles since his death - healing a Costa Rican woman with a brain aneurysm and nun with Parkinson's
  • Has attracted criticism for his conservative teachings on abortion, homosexuality and birth control
  • His canonisation is the fastest in Catholic history.

More on this story