- Pilgrimage to nowhere
There has long been an ambivalence about the man who was both the ultimate betrayer and the means by which God’s plan was fulfilled. The author of a new book visits the lonely place where the renegade apostle took his own life
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Courtesy of Vatican tv
Some 800,000 pilgrims filled a rainy St Peter's Square and the streets around it for the unprecedented canonisation of two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II.
Equally historic was that two living popes were to concelebrate at the ceremony, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Pope John Paul's cause for sainthood was evident at his funeral, with banners proclaiming "Santo subito" or "sainthood now".
Normally, two miracles attributed to the deceased need to be verified. The first for John Paul II was a French nun, said to be cured of Parkinson's. The second was a Costa Rican woman, cured of a brain aneurism.
In the sainthood of Pope John XXIII, the process has been different. The Church attributes only one miracle to his intercession but Pope Francis made an exception. John XXIII, often referred to as "Good Pope John", through his calling of the council changed the way the Church relates to the world and other religions.
As The Tablet says this week, "There is little doubt that the two most outstanding Popes of the past 100 years were John XXIII and John Paul II," but other popes such as Leo XIII and Benedict XV who have not been canonised are "no less worthy of admiration and respect".
Lives at a glance
|John XXIII||John Paul II|
|Born||25 November 1881, Sotto il Monte, Bergamo, Italy||18 May 1920, Wadowice, Poland|
|Birth name||Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli||Karol Józef Wojtyla|
|Elected pope||28 October 1958 after 11 ballots||16 October 1978 after eight ballots|
|Papacy length||4 years 7 months 5 days||26 years 5 months 17 days|
|Died||3 June 1963||2 April 2005|
|Remembered for||Calling the Second Vatican Council, Pacem in Terris, removing the word 'perfidious' from Good Friday prayer for the Jews||First Polish Pope, taking on communism, improving ties with Jews, clamping down on Liberation theology, notably on visit to Nicaragua in 1983|
|Motto||Obedientia et pax - 'obedience and peace'||Totus tuus – 'totally yours', an expression of his Marian devotion|
|Especially popular with||Progressives, social justice activists, Italians||Conservatives, Poles|
|Accused of||Weakening the Church because the Council reforms coincided with falling numbers of vocations and laity||Turning a blind eye to burgeoning abuse crisis
Insisting on universal ban on condoms even in face of rising HIV epidemic
|Travels||Worked in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and France before being elected pope; thereafter remained in Italy||Remained mostly in Poland before election; as Pope travelled to 129 countries|
|Beatified||3 September 2000, by Pope John Paul II||1 May 2011, by Pope Benedict XVI|
|Feast day||11 October
4 June (Anglican Communion)
|Did you know?||Pope John would leave the Vatican to walk the streets of Rome to be with the people||As a boy, Karol would offer to be in goal for the Jewish football side if a group of Catholics and a group of Jewish boys wanted to take each other on|
From gangs to clubs
John Paul II was known for his love of sport as a means of building spiritual character through excellence in sporting skills and fitness, discipline and self-sacrifice. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI, during his visit to Britain, launched the John Paul 2 Foundation 4 Sport. (Read more)