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One million to watch Vatican declare two Popes saints

Up to one million people are expected in Saint Peter's Square and nearby streets of Rome to witness the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II, two of the great popes of the 20th century.

A faithful holds up roses as she takes part in a vigil outside the Sant'Agnese in Rome. Credit: Reuters/Yara Nardi

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and set up the modernising Second Vatican Council, and John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years and played a leading role on the world stage, will be declared saints by Pope Francis.

Francis' own huge popularity has added extra appeal to the unprecedented ceremony to raise two former leaders of the church to sainthood. But while both were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who only died nine years ago, has been canonised too quickly.

Pilgrims bed down for the night ahead of canonisation

Thousands of pilgrims are bedding down for the night in Vatican City ahead of tomorrow's canonisation of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Faithful lie in sleeping bags as they stay overnight near the Vatican in Rome. Credit: REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito
The pilgrims get cozy ahead of the canonisation Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Credit: REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

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Thousands flock to Vatican for Popes' canonisation

Priests sing in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican ahead of the canonisation ceremony tomorrow. Credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Thousands of pilgrims are flocking to Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City ahead of the canonisation ceremonies of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Pilgrims get their beds ready for the night as they camp out for the best spots in Saint Peter's Square. Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi

Dozens of pilgrims from John Paul II's native Poland arrived in Rome earlier and set up a camp to make sure they secure the best spots for tomorrow.

A group of Polish faithful from Wadowice rest in downtown Rome, ahead of the canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile

More than 200,000 faithful are expected to watch the ceremony at Saint Peter's Square.

Two former Popes to be honoured in canonisation

Two former Popes of the Roman Catholic Church are set to become saints at an unprecedented twin canonisation by Pope Francis, that has aroused both joy and controversy in the 1.2 billion member Church.

Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005, will be declared saints in a ceremony tomorrow.

A tapestry featuring Pope John Paul II is seen in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentil

While John died half a century ago, critics say the canonisation of John Paul - which sets a record for modern times of only nine years after his death - is too hasty.

Some critics also believe he was slow to grasp the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis that emerged towards the end of his pontificate.

Pope Francis leads Easter Mass at the Vatican

Pope Francis arrives to lead the Easter mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Credit: Reuters
Members of the Italian army march in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Credit: Reuters
Swiss guards stand to attention before the arrival of Pope Francis to lead the Easter mass in Saint Peter's Square. Credit: Reuters

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Cocaine-filled condoms addressed to Vatican found

Authorities handed a package filled with narcotics to Vatican police with the aim of laying a trap for a culprit. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

German customs officials intercepted a package addressed to the Vatican containing 14 cocaine-filled condoms, passing it onto Vatican police with the hope a culprit may claim it.

A finance ministry spokesman confirmed the incident as reported in German Bild am Sonntag (£) was seized in January at Leipzig international airport.

The package was posted from an unnamed South American country and addressed to the main postal centre at the Vatican. It had remained unclaimed since January, with investigators believing the intended recipient was likely tipped off to the package's interception.

Pope Francis puts emphasis on 'church for the poor'

Archbishop Vincent Nichols is the only cardinal chosen from a European church, Father Christopher Jamison told ITV News.

Mr Jamison, who is a friend of the newly appointed cardinal, said that Pope Francis was putting a stronger emphasis on being "a poor church for the poor".

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