VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has cleared two of the 20th century's most influential popes to become saints.
The pontiff today approved a miracle that was needed in order to canonize Pope John Paul II. And in the case of Pope John the 23rd, Francis waived Vatican rules so he can be declared a saint even though the Vatican hasn't confirmed a second miracle attributed to him.
A ceremony is expected before the end of the year -- possibly in early December.
Today's announcement came on a remarkable day that melded papacies from the past and present.
It opened with Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict, attending their first Vatican ceremony together. They sat side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens.
It continued with the publication of Francis' first encyclical. It was a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired.
130-c-10-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"of the year"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports the Vatican says Pope John Paul II is to become a saint. (5 Jul 2013)
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131-c-12-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"a second miracle"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports Francis is setting up a dual canonization along with Pope John the 23rd, even though the Vatican hasn't confirmed a second miracle attributed to his intercession. (5 Jul 2013)
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APPHOTO ROM120: FILE - In this Oct. 4, 1962 file photo Pope John XXIII stands at the window of his nine-car train during a brief stop at the small railway station of Orte, during the pontiff's train trip across Italy, to pray for the success of the Roman Catholic Church's forthcoming Ecumenical Council. Pope Francis decided Friday, July 5, 2013, to canonize John XXIII for sainthood, along with John Paul II, even though there has been no second miracle attributed to his intercession. (AP Photo/Mario Torrisi) (4 Oct 1962)
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APPHOTO VAT201: RETRANSMISSION OF VAT101 TO PROVIDE DIFFERENT CROP- In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, left, is welcomed by Pope Francis during a ceremony for the unveiling of San Michele Arcangelo statue at the Vatican, Friday, July 5, 2013. Francis and Benedict were together Friday morning for the inauguration of the new monument inside the Vatican gardens ó the first time they have been seen together since May 2, when Francis welcomed Benedict back to the Vatican after his initial retirement getaway. Pope Francis issued his first encyclical Friday, a meditation on faith that is unique because it was written with Benedict XVI. Benedict's hand is evident throughout much of the first three chapters of "The Light of Faith," with his theological style, concerns and reference points clear. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho) (4 Jul 2013)
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APPHOTO XDS101: A girl uses her smartphone to take pictures of an embroidered drape depicting late Pope John Paul II on display in a downtown shop selling religious items, in Rome, Friday, July 5, 2013. Pope Francis decided Friday to make Pope John Paul II a saint, approving a miracle attributed to his intercession and setting up a remarkable dual canonization along with another beloved pope, John XXIII. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis) (5 Jul 2013)
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