VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI today approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession, clearing the way for the late pope’s beatification on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Pope Benedict’s action followed more than five years of investigation into the life and writings of the Polish pontiff, who died in April 2005 after more than 26 years as pope.
The Vatican took special care with verification of the miracle, the spontaneous cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease — the same illness that afflicted Pope John Paul in his final years. Three separate Vatican panels approved the miracle, including medical and theological experts, before Pope Benedict signed the official decree.
In 2005, Pope Benedict set Pope John Paul on the fast track to beatification by waiving the normal five-year waiting period for the introduction of his sainthood cause. That seemed to respond to the “Santo subito!” (“Sainthood now!”) banners that were held aloft at Pope John Paul’s funeral.
Six years and one month from death to beatification may not strike people as “subito,” but it will be a modern record in the church. For Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was described by many as a “living saint” and for whom the waiting period was also waived, it took six years and one and a half months to complete the process.
According to the Vatican newspaper, it’s the first time in more than a thousand years that a pope will have beatified his immediate predecessor.