Retired Pope Benedict joins Pope Francis for historic canonisation

Pope Francis (R) waves to believers after the historic double canonisation ceremony Photo: MICHAEL KAPPELER/dpa

Pope Francis has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in an unprecedented canonisation ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis recited the saint-making formula in Latin, saying that after deliberating, consulting and praying for divine assistance "we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church".

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (C) arrives for the historic double canonisation ceremony for past pontiffs Credit: Michael Kappeler/dpa

Never before have a reigning and retired pope celebrated Mass together in public, much less at an event honouring two of their most famous predecessors.

Benedict's presence was a reflection of the balancing act that Francis envisioned when he decided to canonise John and John Paul together, showing the unity of the Catholic Church by honouring popes beloved to conservatives and progressives alike.

ITV News correspondent Nick Thatcher reports: