apr. 27 - Pope Francis proclaims two of his predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, as saints of the Catholic Church. Rough Cut. (No Reporter Narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Pope Francis proclaimed two of his predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II as saints of the Catholic Church on Sunday (April 27) at a ceremony in Saint Peter's Square attended by hundreds of thousands of faithful from around the world. The canonisation of two former popes on the same day was unprecedented in the history of the Church. Hundreds of thousands of people packed into the squares and streets of the Vatican to watch the ceremony. The crowd was so large that it stretched back along all of Via della Conciliazione, the half kilometre-long, broad boulevard that starts at the Tiber River, where even some of the bridges were packed with pilgrims. The Mass, which began under a light rain, was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who on February 28, 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down. Benedict walked with a cane and was dressed in white vestments. It was only the second time Benedict, 87, who is living in near-isolation in the Vatican, attended a Church ritual. His attendance gave the ceremony a somewhat surreal atmosphere created by the presence of the reigning pope, a retired pope and two dead popes buried in the basilica behind the altar. A plethora of other dignitaries were also in attendance, ranging from the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to the Spanish King and Queen and the Irish prime minister. "We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church," Francis said in his formal proclamation in Latin about 30 minutes into the solemn service. Applause and cheers went up among the huge crowd as many fixed their gaze on the huge tapestries of the two popes which were hung from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica.