(VATICAN CITY) — For the first time ever on Sunday morning, a ceremony for the canonization of two former popes was held, and to make the event even more historic, both living popes were in attendance.
Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were canonized on Sunday and an estimated 250,000 people were in St. Peter’s Square for the ceremony while about 750,000 were expected to watch the ceremony on large screens through the city.
Each of the two new saints were represented by relics — the physical remains of a saint or the things he or she touched in their lifetime, used to help the faithful honor the new saints. The relics, a container of John Paul II’s blood and a piece of skin from John XXIII, were placed near the altar during the ceremony.
The church has had two living popes before, though not for hundreds of years. The sight of popes Benedict and Francis greeting one another sent cheers through Vatican City.
During his homily, Pope Francis said that the two new saints “cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church.” Francis called John XXIII “the pope of openness to the Spirit” and John Paul II “the pope of the family.”
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