Two Popes Made Saints: at-a-glance guide

Five million pilgrims are expected in Rome for the canonisation of two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II.

Equally historic is the possibility that two living popes will celebrate 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)
22 October
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

In pictures

Two popes, two saints

From the archive:

Pope John XXIII's election

Death of John XXIII

Karol Wojtyla: a profile

Election of John Paul II

Death of John Paul II

Beatification of John Paul II

Plus – don't miss John XXIII's best one-liners