By David Madden, Jenn Bernstein
VATICAN CITY, Italy (CBS) — The Vatican has announced the impending sainthood of Pope John Paul II and one of his predecessors, John XXIII.
John Paul’s elevation comes a little more than eight years after his death — warp speed by Vatican standards.
But Father Kevin Gallagher, pastor at St. Denis Parish in Havertown, Pa., suggests it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“If you go back to the funeral celebration for Pope John Paul II, you remember the crowds were exclaiming from St. Peter’s Square, ‘Make him a saint now.’ ”
A second miracle — a person whose brain damage was cured, the church determined, through John Paul’s intercession — brought the matter to Pope Francis, who has approved it.
Church Bells tolled, as a statue of Pope John Paul II stood and watched over The National Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown.
Years ago, when he was a cardinal, he visited the church.
The announcement Pope Francis approved him for sainthood, is causing many who attend services, to celebrate.
“I pray before this statue of him and he was so inspiring,” said Charmayne Tilston from New York. She attends the church while visiting her daughter who lives in the area.
“I am quiet pleased with that, I knew it was just a matter of time,” said Joe Murzyn as he headed into 11:30 a.m. mass.
Pope John Paul II’s rise to sainthood also has special meaning at Saint Adalbert’s Roman Catholic Church in Port Richmond.
A plaque honoring his visit in 1976, when he was still a cardinal is on display.
“I met him a long time again when he was here,” said Joseph Burkacki who works at the church, “I’m just happy, glad it happened, and finally in my lifetime.”
Francis has also canonized Pope John XXIII, who brought about the “Vatican II” reforms now in place. He died 50 years ago, and the second miracle requirement was waived by church leaders.
“He’s the one who was seen as a rather elderly pope, being elected just to stay the times of the church,” notes Fr. Gallagher, “and yet he emerged and said no, it’s time for the church to open wide the doors and allow a new way of thinking.”
Official ceremonies in Rome are expected before the end of the year.