Faithful gather along Via della Conciliazione in front of St. Peter square while waiting for the canonisation ceremony of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II to start at the Vatican April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
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Pope Francis declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints before some 800,000 people on Sunday, an unprecedented ceremony made even more historic by the presence in St. Peter's Square of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.Never before have a reigning Pope and a retired Pope celebrated Mass together in public, much less at an event honoring two of their most famous predecessors.Francis then tweaked the Vatican's own saint-making rules, deciding that John could be made a saint without the necessary second miracle usually required for canonization.In John Paul's native Poland, bells tolled as soon as Francis pronounced the two men saints.Benedict had promised to remain "hidden from the world" after resigning last year, but Francis has coaxed him out of retirement and urged him to take part in the public life of the church.In a dress rehearsal of sorts, Benedict attended the February ceremony in which Francis installed 19 new cardinals.
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