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2 Popes Canonized At The Same Time: Why It's A Big Deal

In a historical first, the Catholic Church will canonize two former popes on the same day, but not without controversy.
Posted at 8:17 PM, Apr 25, 2014

For the first time, and likely the last, two former popes will be jointly canonized Sunday in what some people are calling a "day of four popes."

​​Pope Francis is expected to declare Popes John Paul II and John XXIII saints while his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, looks on. Preparations at the Vatican are underway, as millions of people are expected to attend the ceremony. (Via ABCNBC)

John Paul II died in 2005 and is known for, among other things, his role in helping end Communist rule in Eastern Europe. John XXIII, who died in 1963, inaugurated the Second Vatican Council, which helped modernize Catholic doctrine. (Via ITNCNN)

However, it's not just the rarity of the joint canonization that's making headlines. As a correspondent for CBS explains, there's also a bit of controversy surrounding the impending sainthood of John Paul II.

"Rules have been waived. ... In response to chants of 'Santo Subito​' — 'Make him a saint now' — at John Paul II's funeral, Pope Benedict XVI dispensed with the mandated five-year waiting period for the work on proving sainthood to begin." 

Waiting period aside, the Vatican believes John Paul II meets all the other requirements for sainthood. To be named a saint, one must complete two miracles, and there must be evidence one led a holy life. (Via The White House / Eric Draper

One of the approved miracles: A woman from Costa Rica claims John Paul caused her inoperable brain aneurysm to disappear three years ago, allowing her, even today, to lead a healthy life. (Via CB24

Another miracle attributed to John Paul is the restored health of a nun who says she was healed of Parkinson's disease after praying to the late pontiff shortly after his death. (Via The Guardian

And the requirement of two miracles is where another controversy comes into play: the church has only verified one miracle by John XXIII, but he will still be canonized. 

"It's not outside the history of the church. ... Right after his death in 1963 members who were taking part in the Second Vatican Council went so far as to make the request he be declared a saint immediately." (Via Fox News

And CBS explains, "In the case of John XXIII, his life itself was deemed holy enough to serve as a substitute for one of the two miracles usually required for sainthood."

The historic double canonization will be broadcasted live Sunday morning at 9:30 Vatican time.