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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.

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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

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.

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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".

Archbishop Vincent Nichols created a cardinal by Pope

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has been created a cardinal by Pope Francis.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, received the symbolic red hat at a consistory ceremony in Rome.

Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster created a cardinal by Pope Francis Credit: RTV

The Archbishop was one of 19 cardinals created during the ceremony this morning at St Peter's Basilica.

Pope Francis bestows symbolic red hat in Rome. Credit: RTV

Former-Pope Benedict makes rare appearance

Pope Benedict sat in the front row at the ceremony in the Vatican.

Former Pope Benedict made a surprise entrance into St. Peter's Basilica to attend a ceremony at which his successor, Pope Francis, was elevating 19 prelates to the high rank of cardinal.

Benedict, who resigned a year ago, sat quietly wearing a long white overcoat in the front row along with other cardinals.

It was the first time he has attended a papal ceremony since his resignation, although he and Francis have met several times.

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