Popes John XXIII and John Paul II were elevated to sainthood Sunday in a first-ever dual canonization at the Vatican, witnessed by two living popes.
Pope Francis praised John XXIII as a reformer of the church for heralding the second Vatican Council, which modernized the churches’ practices and regulations. He lauded John Paul II, who led the world’s more than one billion Catholics for more than a quarter century, as the “pope of the family.”
“They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” Francis said, calling John XXIII and John Paul II “men of courage.”
“They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful, faith was more powerful.”
Some 800,000 people witnessed the ceremony in St. Peter’s Square, while millions more watched around the world.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who stunned the church by abdicating a year ago, met with Francis before and after the ceremony, but did not take part.