Double canonization planned for Sunday

By: Samantha Lavien

Twitter: @samanthalavien

In just a few days two of the most popular popes of the 20th century will become saints.

Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II will be canonized on Sunday.

Experts say this is the first time two popes will become saints at the same time.

At St. Stanislaus Church in Woonsocket the Polish congregation is planning a huge celebration to honor the first Polish pope becoming a saint.

“I’m very proud that he got picked a saint because he lived a saint life. And as a polish person it means to me an awful lot,” said Danuta Niedzwiadek a parishioner at St. Stanislaus Kostka.

“He was just a great symbol. He was dearly loved by the polish community and he was just a symbol of what we all aspire to be,” said Peter Linek a parishioner at St. Stanislaus Kostka.

Pope John Paul the II was the first non–Italian pope in more than 450 years. He was known as a human rights activist who used his influence to create political change.

He visited the U.S. twice during his papacy between 1978 and 2000.

Pope John Paul II’s canonization was pushed through extremely fast… in fact Pope Benedict waived the traditional 5 year waiting period to begin the sainthood process.

“Benedict wanted it even at his funeral he declared him santos subito which is immediately a saint,” said Providence College Associate Theology Professor, Dr. James Keating.

Keating says this canonization of two popes is extremely rare. He believes this is the first time it is happening.

“It’s a way to sort of bring the 20th century to a close as far as here they are the two great popes of the last part of the 20th century,” said Keating.

Pope John XXIII was elected in 1958 and died in 1963. He launched Vatican two, changing the public face of the 2000 year old church.

“Pope John XXIII, everyone loved him he was the most popular Italian pope for a very long time,” said Keating.

St. Stanislaus is holding a special mass on Sunday as are many churches throughout the area.

And in Rome, where the canonization is taking place, more than three million people are expected to fill St. Peter’s Square.