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Becoming a saint in five not-so-easy steps

Being made a saint of the Catholic Church is no easy feat and the conclusion of a drawn-out process following a candidate's death, usually involving having two Vatican-recognised "miracles" attributed to you. As the Church prepares to celebrate on April 27 its first-ever canonisation of two popes at the same time, John XXIII and John Paul II, below is a step-by-step guide to the process of achieving full sainthood.

Italy Church appeals to thieves to return John Paul blood relic

By Philip Pullella ROME (Reuters) - The Catholic Church has appealed to thieves to return a reliquary containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II that disappeared in what it called a "vile and sacrilegious theft". The gold reliquary was stolen at the weekend from a small stone church, San Pietro della Ienca, in the mountains east of Rome, where, in his younger days, the pope would slip away secretly from the pressures of the Vatican to hike and ski.

Over 20,000 attend beatification ceremony in Spain

Tarragona, Spain, Oct 13 (EFE).- More than 20,000 people on Sunday in the northeastern Spanish city of Tarragona attended the largest beatification ceremony in history where 522 of the faithful killed during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War were so honored. The ceremony began with a message from Pope Francis in which he pointed out the example of these martyrs - whom he said imitated Jesus Christ - and insisted on the need to "open ourselves up to others, to those who most need it."

Blind leper Argentine priest beatified

A blind leper Argentine priest who traveled on a mule across the country's vast pampas to minister to the poor was beatified on Saturday. The open air Mass for the beatification of Father Jose Brochero was attended by an estimated 150,000 people in the northern city of Cordoba. On hand were 3,000 gauchos, or Argentine cattle herders, wearing ponchos of the kind Brochero did. He was known here as the "gaucho priest." Brochero, who died of leprosy, lived from 1840 to 1914. Angela Amato, a cardinal representing Pope Francis, who is Argentine, oversaw the Mass.

Costa Rica woman details second John Paul 'miracle'

With a portrait of John Paul II on the wall behind her and a rosary around her neck, Floribeth Mora faced a roomful of reporters to explain how her brain aneurism was cured by praying to the late pope. "Rise, don't be afraid!" Mora said John Paul told her. The cure -- deemed a miracle by the Catholic Church -- was the key second event required for John Paul's eventual sainthood.

Costa Rica woman details second John Paul 'miracle'

With a portrait of John Paul II on the wall behind her and a rosary around her neck, Floribeth Mora faced a roomful of reporters to explain how her brain aneurism was cured by praying to the late pope. "Rise, don't be afraid!" Mora said John Paul told her. The cure -- deemed a miracle by the Catholic Church -- was the key second event required for John Paul's eventual sainthood.

Pope Francis approves sainthood for John Paul II

Vatican City, Jul 5 (EFE).- Pope Francis has given final approval to the canonization of two of his predecessors, John Paul II and John XXIII, the Vatican said Friday. The pontiff recognized the validity of a second miracle attributed to John Paul, a prerequisite for sainthood. In the case of John XXIII, however, Francis invoked his authority to waive the requirement of a second miracle and allow the canonization to proceed without it.

John Paul II on brink of sainthood after miracle approved: report

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The late Pope John Paul II moved closer to sainthood on Tuesday after a commission of cardinals and bishops credited him with a second miracle since his death, Italian media reported. A canonization ceremony for the Polish-born pontiff, who died in April 2005, could come as soon as December, news agency ANSA said. That would be the fastest progression to sainthood in modern times. The remaining stage in the ancient procedure is a signature from the current pope, Francis, confirming the decision.

Vatican miracle judges approve John Paul II for sainthood

The Vatican congregation in charge of examining candidates for sainthoods has recognised a second miracle by John Paul II, leaving just a papal signature necessary to authorise the former pope's canonisation, Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday. The Polish pope is likely to be canonised by the end of the year in a ceremony which could take place in December, the agency said. Vatican theologians in June had attributed a second miracle to John Paul II, which Vatican sources had said would "amaze the world", the report said.

Second miracle attributed to John Paul II

Vatican theologians have attributed a second miracle to pope John Paul II, putting him firmly on the path to sainthood, the ANSA news agency reported Tuesday. Quoting unnamed Vatican sources, ANSA said the new miracle would "amaze the world", while Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi would not confirm or deny the report when contacted by AFP. The long road to sainthood requires two "confirmed" miracles, the first of which is necessary for beatification, a hurdle the Polish pope cleared just six months after his death in 2005.
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