Vatican City: Pope Francis declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints on Sunday before hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, an unprecedented ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Never before has a reigning and retired pope celebrated Mass together in public, much less at an event honouring two of their most famous predecessors.
Pope Benedict's presence was a reflection of the balancing act that Pope Francis envisioned when he decided to canonize Pope John and Pope John Paul together, showing the unity of the Catholic Church by honouring popes beloved to conservatives and progressives alike.
Poep Francis took a deep breath and paused for a moment before reciting the saint-making formula in Latin, as if moved by the history he was about to make.
Applause broke out from a crowd that stretched from St. Peter's to the Tiber River and beyond.