John Paul II beatified (Lead)

May 1st, 2011 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, May 1 (IANS) Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II Sunday before a large crowd that congregated in St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets of Rome, taking the late pontiff one step closer to sainthood, RIA Novosti reported.

Beatification, or declaring a person to be “blessed”, is the necessary prelude to full sainthood. The Vatican must declare the person to have performed a miracle for this to take place.

Shortly after the start of the Mass that had drawn over one million people, Benedict pronounced that from now on John Paul could be called “Blessed”.

John Paul II, the predecessor of Pope Benedict XVI, died April 2, 2005, at the age of 84. He was the second-longest documented pontiff, who headed the Catholic Church for 26 years.

Among those at the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square was French nun Marie Simon-Pierre, who claims she was cured of Parkinson’s disease. Her apparent miraculous cure is part of the case for the beatification, the last stage before sainthood, BBC reported.

St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican, was packed, with the faithful waving banners and flags as Pope Benedict XVI declared his predecessor blessed, or beatified.

Rome didn’t witness crowds of this size since the death of Pope John Paul II six years ago when about three million pilgrims gathered in the Italian capital, the report added.

A special Thanksgiving mass will be celebrated in Saint Peter’s Square on the morning of May 2.

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