Sunday, April 27, 2014
It was a unique day to say the least. The canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII will forever be recorded in the history of the Catholic Church.
The setting itself was impressive. From the two giant tapestries of the two new saints, hanging from St. Peter's Basilica, to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, dignitaries, presidents and leaders who made it a point to attend the ceremony.
The day of four Popes, as its now being described, began with the arrival of Benedict XVI. Cardinals greeted him and then Pope Francis did the same.
Then, on Sunday morning, before the Universal Church, the Pope read the decree, officially declaring John Paul II and John XXIII as saints.
Applause quickly followed in the Square, as thousands payed their respects in Rome and throughout the world.
Relatives of John XXIII and also the woman cured through the intercession of John Paul II carried the relics of the two new saints.
In his homily, the Pope explained why they both exemplified God's love and mercy.
"These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.”
Even when faced with tragedy and suffering, the Pope explained that the two new saints, were brave.
"They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful.”
The Pope also highlighted how John Paul II and John XXIII conveyed hope and faith, even in dark times. He described John XXIII as a Pope who was open to the Spirit. John Paul II as leader and protector of the family. In fact, Pope Francis called on them both to intercede in the next synod on the family.
"May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.”
At the end of the Mass, the Pope made his way through the square in the Popemobile to greet all the pilgrims. He even stretched out to neighboring streets, going beyond Vatican borders to thank all the people who witnessed this historic day in the Church.