Popes John Paul II, John XXIII Canonization Set for Mass Celebrations Across Catholic World; Vatican Explains Sainthoods

The Roman Catholic Church is set for major celebrations around the world to mark the canonization of popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday.

The Vatican discussed their sainthood during a Tuesday press briefing, saying, "Father Giovangiuseppe Califano, the postulator for John XXIII, said as a 15-year-old seminarian Angelo Roncalli was already making resolutions that were intended to help him become a saint for real. He said Pope John's sainthood was characterized by a deep humility and he was both a shepherd and a father," according to Vatican Radio.

"Roncalli, he continued, opened new horizons to the Church by convening the Second Vatican Council and was a capable communicator who by using simple every-day expressions succeeded in entering immediately into the hearts of people. Father Califano went on to explain how the words 'obedience and peace' were not just Roncalli's episcopal motto but were at the root of his sainthood as they characterized his life at the service of the Church."

Pope John Paul II's postulator, Monsignor Slavomir Oder, said that the two met at a university and he saw him as a "future saint" because of his prayer habits and reflections on the value of life.

"He said John Paul's profound mysticism encouraged him to personally live out the mystery of God in his own life," Vatican Radio reported.

"Man of God, Monsignor Oder said, is the word that truly characterizes a saint and this applies to Woytyla. He was a man who found the source of his life in God. Prayer for Karol Woytyla was his air, his water and his daily bread."

Pope Francis announced in September that the double canonization would take place the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy.

Rome said that it expects three millions visitors to the city during Easter celebrations and the upcoming canonization ceremony. The New York Post reported that 19 heads of state and 24 prime ministers are expected to attend the ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

Vicar of Rome Cardinal Agostino Vallini has revealed that some churches would remain open overnight on the eve of the canonization to provide a spiritual retreat for pilgrims, "but not much else."

Meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus announced that it will sponsor U.S. celebrations on Saturday and Sunday in Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn.; and Los Angeles.

"These two saints have each left very important legacies for the Church, and important examples of holiness for all of us," said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who worked with Pope John Paul II on several initiatives and will be in Rome for the canonizations.

"Pope John XXIII led the Church into the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II served as its key interpreter, leaving the Church a profound legacy that continues to shape the third millennium of Christianity."

A second miracle was approved to John Paul II in May 2011, making him eligible for sainthood. The Polish pope is set for the fastest canonizing in modern history following his death in 2005, while Pope John XXII, who died in 1963, has had to wait 51 years for his sainthood.

Further personal reflections on the lives and service of John Paul II and John XXIII are offered on the Vatican website.

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