Saint Pope John Paul II (Part 7 - Canonization)
During an audience with Pope Benedict XIV, Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini cited exceptional circumstances with the canonization process of Saint John Paul II and recommended that the standard five year waiting period be waved. Pope Benedict XIV agreed with the recommendation, and on May 13th, 2005, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, from the See of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reported that Pope Benedict XVI had waived the normal five-year waiting period and began the cause of Beatification and Canonization immediately. The decision was announced on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima and the 24th anniversary of the first assassination attempt at Saint Peter's Square.
Officially, the cause of beatification was opened in the Lateran Basilica on June 28th, 2005. The first miracle associated with him was investigated in early 2006. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a French Nun suffering from Parkinson's Disease that was so intense it had left her bedridden. The disease had progressed so fully that she had difficulty writing, walking, and functioning normally. She awoke early on the morning of June 2nd, 2005 after having asked members of her community (The Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood in France and Senegal) to pray for the intercession of Pope John Paul II, as the Pope had likewise suffered from Parkinson's disease. That morning, she woke up with no symptoms of the disease at all and after celebrating returned to work at the maternity hospital. At a press conference with Archbishop Claude Feidt she told reporters:
“I am cured, but it is up to the church to say whether it was a miracle or not.”
The investigation into the miracle took about a year. The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints and it's medical panel gave a positive affirmation and was signed by Pope Benedict XVI. The panel and congregation confirmed that the symptoms Sister Marie suffered from were not mere psychogenic or elated to another disease.
On November 16th, 2009, the panel of reviewers at the Congregation voted unanimously that Pope John Paul II had lived a life of virtue. The Beatification Ceremony was presided over by Pope Benedict XVI and took place on May 1st, 2011. Nearly a million Catholics gathered for the Mass held at Saint Peter's Square with over 30,000 posters put up around the city and a delegation of 87 different countries attended. Blood taken during the final days of his life was displayed as a relic for veneration and the reliquary containing it was carried by Sister Marie. After two days of viewing, the coffin was sealed back within Saint Peter's under t he Altar of Saint Sebastian.
Floribeth Mora Diaz, a lawyer from Costa Rica was diagnosed with an inoperable cerebral aneurysm on April 2011. Doctors performed several tests including a brain scan before attempting a three hour long operation. She told reporters later:
“They sent me home and told me I had a month to live and that there was little hope,”
She immediately began praying for Pope John Paul II's intercession and watched the beatification ceremonies on TV from her bed. Later that night, she was woken by a voice telling her to stand up - the voice was that of Pope John Paul II.
“I prayed to John Paul and I asked him to tell God that I did not want to die because I love my children and did not want to abandon them,”
“I fell asleep and when I woke up I heard the voice of John Paul telling me “Get Up! Don’t be afraid!”
She did and was fully healed. A Catholic neurosurgeon, Alejandro Vargas Roman determined the healing to be fully inexplicable from a medical standpoint. The original doctors verified that they could produce no explanations for such a total and complete healing.
This second miracle was formally recognized as the second miracle needed for Canonization and was confirmed by Pope Francis on July 4th 2013 alongside his formal approval. The Canonization Mass was held for both Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27th, 2014 in Saint Peter's Square. The Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with over 500,000 attending and another 300,000 watching from video screens in Rome. 19 heads of state and 24 heads of government attended the Mass with delegations from over a hundred countries and international organizations.