Vatican proclaims two popes saints in packed ceremony

Pope Francis has proclaimed John XXIII and John Paul II, two of the great popes of the 20th century, saints today in a double canonization front of thousands of people in Vatican City, Rome.

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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.

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