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Countdown to historic canonisation of two popes

Countdown to historic canonisation of two popes
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With Pope Francis set to elevate two of his predecessors to sainthood on Sunday, anticipation is mounting as tourists and pilgrims pour into Rome.

Up to a million people could converge on the Vatican to honour Pope John Paul II who died in 2005 and John XXIII, pontiff from 1958 to 1963. Theirs will be an unprecedented twin canonisation.

“We are very happy,” said one German tourist in traditional dress, expressing delight that Pope John Paul II beatified her compatriot Anna Schaeffer in 1999.

“Now we are coming back to honour him at his canonisation.”

Spanish-speaking visitors have particular warmth for Argentine Pope Francis and his leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

“I think Pope Francis is a special pope,” one Spanish pilgrim said. “He is doing things that are not the norm for the church. He is wonderful. He has encouraged many people to come to Rome….it will be beautiful.”

Final preparations are underway for the canonisation which will be shown on giant screens in Rome and live on euronews.

The pair of popes qualified for sainthood after church investigators credited them with interceding with God after their death to perform miracle cures.