The Vatican says the late Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints in a joint ceremony on April 27, 2014.
Pope Francis made the announcement Monday during a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican.
The Polish Pope John Paul II and Italian Pope John XXIII are two of the 20th century’s most influential Church leaders. The decision to canonize them together is seen by many as an attempt to bridge a divide within Catholicism as each pope has their admirers and critics.
Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in four centuries, led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005 – during the fall of communism, including in his native country of Poland. He is credited with curing a Costa Rican woman with severe brain injury and healing a French nun of Parkinson’s disease.
Pope John XXIII was pontiff from 1958 through 1963 and is credited with organizing the Second Vatican Council, which overhauled the Church’s rituals, and with reaching out to other faiths. Only one miracle, the curing of an Italian nun, is associated with Pope John, but the current Pope Francis waived the customary rules requiring a second miracle.
(Main photo, of the tomb of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican: (c) The Sofia Globe)