Popes declared Saints

John XXIII John Paul II

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII have just been declared saints by the Catholic Church.

They have been canonized by Pope Francis in a ceremony he is co-celebrating with his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

It is an unprecedented event in the history of the Catholic Church because it is the first time two popes have been canonised at the same ceremony presided over by two living popes.

John Paul II becomes a saint less than ten years after his death in 2005. He led the Catholic Church for twenty six years from 1978 when he was elected at the age of 58 and died in 2005 aged 84.

He earned the reputation of a global freedom fighter.

For John XXIII, the journey to sainthood has taken nearly 52 years from the time of his death in 1963.

He led the church for less than five years before he succumbed to complications related to stomach cancer.

John XXIII became a hero for progressive catholics and is mostly remembered for using vernacular to replace Latin in church masses.

A Mass co-celebrated by Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is underway being watched by one million pilgrims and a vast TV and radio audience.

Nearly 100 foreign delegations are attending, including royal dignitaries and heads of state and government.