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April 2014: Four Popes in St. Peter for the canonization of John Paul II and John XXII


The month of April 2014 will be remembered as a great month in the history of the Church for the canonization of two Popes, John Paul II and John XXIII. 

"We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”

The ceremony also provided a unique moment in Church history: four popes were together in St. Peter's Square: Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and John XXIII. 

In front of a sea of thousands of people, Pope Francis said that the two newly canonized Popes showed the world the goodness of God.

"These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.” 

But they day began many hours earlier in St. Peter's Square. 

Almost one million pilgrims came to Rome. Each one had a personal history related with the Popes. 

"I was only a child but I remember John XXIII during the Council when he said 'when you go home, caress your children and tell them it is the caress of the Pope.”

"My name is John Paul in his honor.”

" I served food to John Paul II during a lunch with Cardinals at the convent of St. Joseph. This is me with the Pope.”

""We are from Poland, and we come here from Brodnica. We run 2000 km in seven days.” 

Although it took place on April 27th, preparations were underway for months in the Eternal City for such a special occasion.

Dozens of leaders from around the world came for the canonizations. Some, such as the King and Queen of Spain, took advantage of their stay in Rome to visit Pope Francis. It was only two months later that King Juan Carlos I would abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Felipe VI. 

During the month of April, Pope Francis met with two other monarchs. He held a meeting with the King of Jordan, Abdullah II on April 7th, several weeks before his visit to the Holy Land. And on April 3rd, he met with Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The Pope gave her a gift for her great grandchild, Prince George of Cambridge. 

It was also the second Holy Week for Pope Francis as Pontiff. On Holy Thursday he celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper at a center for the disabled, elderly and sick people. There, he washed the feet of 12 patients, among them, 86 year old Angelica. 

"But as they say here, I'm on the last leg of the journey. He is great, a great, great person.”

For the Pope, the weak and the vulnerable must be at the heart of the Church. For this reason, on April 11th he asked forgiveness for the abuse of children committed by priest. 

"I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.”

It was during a meeting with members of the  International Catholic Child Bureau which promotes the defense of rights of children worldwide.

Another tragedy close to the life of the Church is that of immigration. In order to bring it to the world's attention, the bishops of the United States and Mexico celebrated a joint Mass on the border to remember those who have abandoned their country in search of a better future.

April 2014 came and went without stopping at the Vatican. 30 days in which the Eternal City was visited by a record number of pilgrims. 30 days in which the Church overwhelmingly celebrated the canonization of two revolutionary Popes. 

-Up: GRT