On Friday, the Vatican cleared the way for two new saints: Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, and Pope John XXIII, who died in 1963. According to local reports, both men could receive the holy designation by the end of 2013.
One requirement for sainthood is that the candidate be linked to two confirmed miracles — one for beatification and one for canonization. For Pope John Paul II, those miracles are the healing of a French nun of Parkinson's disease after she reportedly prayed for his intercession, and the healing of a Costa Rican woman whose cerebral aneurism "disappeared" on May 1, 2011, the day of John Paul's beatification.
But John XXIII, the other former pope named for sainthood, never had a second miracle attributed to his death or memory, prompting the AP to call Friday's announcement a "major demonstration" of Pope Francis' papal authority.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi defended Francis' approval of the decision, which was put forward by the Vatican's saint-making office:
"Certainly the pope has the power, in a certain sense, to dispense of the second miracle in a cause, and this is what happened ... John XXIII is someone who we know is beloved in the church, we're in the 50th anniversary of the Council which he started, and I don't think any of us have any doubts about his virtues."
According to Vatican Radio, Lombardi said he believed the final ceremonies and celebrations "would take place by the end of the year." Speculation has already begun as to which dates will be chosen. From Rocco Palmo, acclaimed Vatican chronicler: