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Pope John Paul nears sainthood, to be beatified (VIDEO)

John Paul II moved closer to sainthood Friday as the Vatican announced he will be beatified later this year.

St. Peter's Square
A priest speaks on a mobile phone at St. Peter's square on Jan. 14, 2011 at the Vatican. John Paul II is to be beatified on May 1, 2011, the Vatican announced, after Pope Benedict XVI signed an official decree. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

John Paul II moved closer to sainthood Friday as the Vatican announced he will be beatified later this year, after medical and theological experts credited him with curing a nun of Parkinson's Disease.

Beatification is the final step before sainthood; A second miracle would have to be confirmed for him to be officially canonized, or made a saint of the Catholic Church.

The beatification ceremony, led by Pope Benedict XVI, will take place after Easter, on May 1 and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome and St. Peter's Square. After that, the late pope will be known as "the Blessed John Paul II."

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre says she was cured of Parkinson's disease after her order prayed to John Paul after his death.

The beatification of John Paul, born Karol Wojtyla in Poland in 1920, comes only six years after his death.

He was a widely beloved and respected pope, who spoke more than a dozen languages and traveled to more than 100 countries. Chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood immediately!" erupted during his funeral.

Shortly after his death in April 2005, his successor Benedict announced that the normal five-year waiting period for beatification and canonization would be waived.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/italy/110114/pope-benedict-sainthood-beatification-vatican