Sainthood date for Popes set

The late Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonised in a joint ceremony in Rome next April 27.

Last Monday, September 30, during the Public Ordinary Consistory for the much-anticipated canonisations, Pope Francis announced Divine Mercy Sunday as the chosen date for the event.

The second Sunday of Easter is now set to witness and massive influx of pilgrims to Rome, not least from John Paul’s native Poland, where the late Pontiff remains a hero to the faithful. One earlier possible date for the canonisation, in December of this year, had been considered by Pope Francis, but pushed back due to concern that Poles would travel by road through hazardous winter conditions to be part of the event.

While a speedy elevation  for Blessed John Paul II has been anticipated – even demanded by supporters who were overjoyed by his 2011 beatification, one of the quickest in Church history – the announcement earlier this year that John XXIII would be canonised caused great surprise given that the normal two-miracle rule was waived in his case.

Both Popes were highly regarded and much loved by the faithful during their respective pontificates – John from 1958 to 1963 and John Paul from 1978 to 2005. In Italy, John XXIII is still recalled affectionately as Il Papa Buono (the Good Pope).

The single miracle making possible John XXIII’s canonisation relates to the 1965 case of a nun in Naples who was suffering severe illness. Her cure followed a reported vision in which the deceased Pontiff assured the nun she would recover. He was subsequently beatified in 2000.

The miraculous intercessions linked with John Paul II relate to a French nun who, suffering Parkinson’s disease in 2005, was cured of the illness having prayed to the recently deceased Pope. The second miracle was recorded in 2011 when a woman suffering a brain aneurism recovered having prayed to John Paul.

That miracle is said to have occurred on the day of John Paul’s beatification.