Benedict Beatifies John Paul II

Just 6 years after John Paul's death, beatification fastest in modern times

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2011 5:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than a million people, along with 16 heads of state and other international dignitaries, flocked to St. Peter's Square at the Vatican today for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, as the former church leader moved one step closer to sainthood. Coming just six years after the pontiff's death, John Paul's beatification was the quickest in modern times and a considerable morale booster for the scandal-ridden Catholic Church.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, former president of Poland Lech Walesa, the crown-prince of Spain, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who obtained permission from the EU to waive his travel ban. Under sunny skies and thousands of Polish flags, Pope Benedict XVI conducted the ceremony in Latin shortly after the start of Mass, receiving a silver reliquary containing a vial of blood taken from John Paul, which will be available later for the faithful to venerate. "He went all over the world," a Mali bishop told the AP. "Today, we're coming to him."

Hundred of thousands attend a solemn celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI where late Pope John Paul II was beatified in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in the fastest beatification in modern times.
Hundred of thousands attend a solemn celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI where late Pope John Paul II was beatified in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in the fastest beatification...   (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
Hundred of thousands attend a solemn celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI where late Pope John Paul II was beatified in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in the fastest beatification in modern times.
Hundred of thousands attend a solemn celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI where late Pope John Paul II was beatified in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in the fastest beatification...   (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
Faithful attend John Paul II beatification ceremony on May 1, 2011 at St Peter's square at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of 'blessed' on the late John Paul II on Sunday in Saint Peter's Square, filled to overflowing as more than one million people took part in...
Faithful attend John Paul II beatification ceremony on May 1, 2011 at St Peter's square at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of 'blessed' on the late John Paul II on Sunday in Saint Peter's...   (Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI blesses pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on May 1, 2011, for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.  Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to attend a Vatican ceremony in which Pope Benedict XVI will honour his late predecessor John Paul II...
Pope Benedict XVI blesses pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on May 1, 2011, for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to attend a...   (Getty Images)
A giant tapestry of late Pope John Paul II is displayed on the facade of St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, during a solemn beatification ceremony for late John Paul II.
A giant tapestry of late Pope John Paul II is displayed on the facade of St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, during a solemn beatification ceremony for late John Paul II.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
This picture shows a general view of St Peter's square during John Paul II beatification ceremony on May 1, 2011 at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of 'blessed' on the late John Paul II on Sunday in Saint Peter's Square, filled to overflowing as more than one...
This picture shows a general view of St Peter's square during John Paul II beatification ceremony on May 1, 2011 at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of 'blessed' on the late John Paul...   (Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the glass reliquary containing the blood of late Pope John Paul II, during the  beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican today.
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the glass reliquary containing the blood of late Pope John Paul II, during the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican today.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Pope Benedict XVI drives through the crowd as he arrives for the beatification of late Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in the fastest beatification in modern times.
Pope Benedict XVI drives through the crowd as he arrives for the beatification of late Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in the fastest beatification in modern...   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
A tapestry of John Paul II is displayed on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
A tapestry of John Paul II is displayed on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
A giant tapestry of late Pope John Paul II is unveiled on the facade of St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
A giant tapestry of late Pope John Paul II is unveiled on the facade of St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Faithful crowd St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets Sunday.
Faithful crowd St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets Sunday.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
Sister Marie Simone-Pierre's, right, and sister Tobiana hold the glass reliquary containing the blood of late Pope John Paul II, during the  beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
Sister Marie Simone-Pierre's, right, and sister Tobiana hold the glass reliquary containing the blood of late Pope John Paul II, during the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, May 1,...   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Pope Benedict XVI leads a Mass for late Pope John Paul II's beatification, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
Pope Benedict XVI leads a Mass for late Pope John Paul II's beatification, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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