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Pope declares John Paul II, John XXIII saints

VATICAN CITY, April 27, 2014 (AFP) – Pope Francis on Sunday proclaimed as saints his influential predecessors John Paul II and John XXIII at an historic ceremony attended by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square.

“We declare and define as saints the blessed John XXIII and John Paul II,” the Catholic leader said in a Latin prayer, as pilgrims and foreign dignitaries applauded and chanted: “Amen!”

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, 87, who is the first pontiff to step down since the Middle Ages, made a rare public appearance in his white papal cassock and Francis embraced him before the ceremony.

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