John XXIII and John Paul II Become Saints


Two popular popes of the past have been declared saints by the Roman Catholic Church.  Hundreds of thousands of believers attended a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in Rome at which Pope Francis canonized John Paul II and John XIII. Benedict XVI, the first Pope to resign in 600 years also attended the ceremony.


How to become a saint

Becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church is a very complicated process, which normally takes a long time. In early times saints were chosen by the church if they were popular among the poeple.

In the case of John Paul II, sainthood came only 9 years after his death. On the other side it took the Vatican over half a century to make John XIII a saint.

Normally, the procedure of becoming a saint can start five years after death, at the earliest.  Exceptions have been made recently for John Paul II and Mother Theresa, whose canonization process started in 1999. After these five years the bishop of the diocese in which the person died can start an investigation to find out whether the candidate is worthy of becoming a saint or not. Their life and deeds are carefully examined. A special council that deals with such cases can then recommend it to the Pope. He has to decide whether a person is honourable enough to become saint.



The next step is beatification.  For this to happen it must be proven that the candidate has performed at least one miracle. In the case of John Paul II, a French nun was supposedly cured from Parkinson’s disease after the Polish pope had died.

The final step is canonization. Normally, a second miracle has to be attributed to the candidate. In John Paul’s case a Costa Rican woman had been cured from a brain disease. John XIII is credited with the healing of a nun. Pope Francis did not insist on a second miracle for his sainthood.

By canonising both a reformer and a conservative pope Francis wanted to show that he does not want to make anyone angry in the church.


John XXIII - The Good Pope

John XXIII, often referred to as the Good Pope, is well-known for initiating the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. Between 1962 and 1965 important documents were produced which are the foundation of the church as we know it today. Among other things, the church started to allow priests to hold mass in their mother tongue and not in Latin.

John XXIII started many reforms within the Roman Catholic Church. He is remembered especially for his support of poor and ill people. He was also the first pope to appoint cardinals from Africa and Asia. John XXIII, however did not live long enough to see reforms work.  He died in 1963 after being a pope for only 5 years.



John Paul II

Although the Polish pope fought against Communism and won respect from all over the world, he is said to have been one of the most conservative popes in recent history.  John Paul was the first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years. He was against contraception and abortion as well as woman’s rights. He also criticized liberals in the Catholic Church for their stance on homosexuality which he regarded as sinful. During his papacy John Paul II had to deal with sex-abuse cases which shook the foundations of the Roman Catholic Church.

In his 25 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church John Paul II travelled more than any other pope before him. He denounced violence and was a fighter for world peace. In 1981 Pope John Paul II survived bullet wounds when he was attacked by a Turkish fanatic. After years of bad health John Paul II died in 2005.



Related Topics



  • abortion = killing an unborn baby
  • among other things = also
  • appoint = select, choose
  • attack = use violence against a person in order to kill or hurt them
  • attend = go to, take part in
  • attribute = to say that an event or action has been caused by someone
  • beatification = the pope says that someone is a holy or special person
  • believer = a person who prays to god
  • brain disease = illness in your head
  • canonize = to make a dead person a saint
  • century = a hundred years
  • complicated = difficult
  • conservative = old fashioned; person who wants things to stay the way they are
  • contraception =  the act of preventing a woman from expecting a baby when she has sex with men
  • council = meeting, organization of people that do a certain job
  • credit =to say that someone has achieved something
  • cure = to make healthy again
  • deal with = work on
  • declare = to say officially
  • deed = act; what a person has achieved
  • denounce = to say that something is bad
  • especially = above all
  • examine = look at carefully
  • exception =  something that does not follow normal rules
  • foundation = basis, fundament, groundwork
  • healing = cure someone from a disease
  • honourable = worthy, respected
  • however = but
  • initiate = start
  • insist on = demand, press for
  • investigation = trying to find out more about a topic
  • liberal =  open minded, modern
  • mass = ceremony in which Roman Catholics go to church on Sundays
  • miracle = wonder, an event that is believed to be caused by God because you cannot explain it
  • nun = someone who is a member of a religious group of women who live together
  • papacy = the time during which a person is pope
  • Parkinson’s disease = illness which makes your muscles weak; your arms and legs shake
  • perform = carry out
  • popular = liked and well-known
  • procedure = process, method
  • process = course, method, activity
  • recent = lately
  • recommend = suggest
  • referred to = called
  • reformer = a person who wants to change things
  • regard = look at as …
  • resign = to step down, stop working in your job
  • saint = someone who has been given the title by the Roman Catholic Church because they have been very good or holy
  • sainthood =the state of being a saint
  • sex-abuse = cruel or violent act towards someone in a sexual way
  • shake – shook- shaken = hit, send a shock through
  • sinful = bad, evil
  • stance = attitude; what you think about something
  • support = help
  • supposedly = so it is said
  • survive = live on after a dangerous situation
  • violence =  the act of hurting people
  • worthy = to deserve respect from others
  • wound = injury