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Popes John, John Paul Canonized In Rome Spectacle

The crowd gathered on St. Peter's Square in the Vatican for the dual canonization ceremony on April 27.
Pope Francis has declared John XXIII and John Paul II saints in the first-ever dual canonization.

Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, presided over the April 27 ceremony at the Vatican to recognize two of the most charismatic modern leaders of the Catholic Church as saints.

"After due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church," Pope Benedict told the crowd.

The mass took place at St. Peter's Square and was being attended by some 150 cardinals and 1,000 bishops.

As many as 1 million people were expected to pack the square and nearby streets of Rome to witness the televised event.

John Paul II was born in Poland as Karol Wojtyla and widely credited for contributing to the collapse of communism during his 1978-2005 papacy.

John XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in Italy, became known as "Good Pope John" while he led the Vatican in 1958-63.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP