Maryland Catholics Celebrate Canonization Of Former Popes

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Roman Catholics celebrate two new saints in a historic ceremony that featured two living popes. Two former popes were elevated to sainthood.

Linh Bui has the story and reaction from Catholics in Maryland.

Nearly a million people crowded Vatican City to witness the event, and millions more celebrated around the world.

A crowd stretching as far as the eye can see watched history in the making with two living popes celebrating together, proclaiming two of their predecessors saints.

The formal request was repeated three times by tradition before Pope Francis responded, declaring John XXIII and John Paul II saints.

“I’m not a crier, and tears were flowing. That’s for sure,” one woman said.

Retired Pope Benedict joined Pope Francis on the altar. It was the first time a reigning and retired pope have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000 year history of the church. Then came the blessings of relics–skin from John XXIII and a vial of blood from John Paul II.

In Maryland, Catholics attended Mass to celebrate the historic day.

“Once in a lifetime event. It’s pretty amazing. And it just gives a rebirth to the church,” Tim Rose said.

It was made even more moving and significant because John Paul II visited Baltimore in 1995.

“I’ve always known that he’d become a saint. I was hoping it would be in our lifetime. Thank God it is in our lifetime. So it’s very exciting,” said Siri Wenrich.

In Washington, the U.S. shrine dedicated to John Paul II was renamed the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II. It includes exhibits about his legacy from 26 years serving as pope and an exhibit about Catholic heritage in North America. The main floor will be converted into a church.

Sunday’s canonization was something that’s never happened before and likely won’t happen again.

Pope Francis praised the church’s newest saints and urged bishops to use them as inspiration.

John XXIII was pope from 1958 to 1963. John Paul II presided over the church for a quarter century, beginning in 1978.

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