Poles applaud beloved John Paul II's sainthood

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Sunday, April 27, 2014


KRAKOW, Poland -- Nine years after his death, the Poles once again applauded their beloved countryman, Pope John Paul II, on Sunday, as he was declared a saint in an unprecedented Vatican ceremony.

Bells tolled across Poland and the crowds applauded, in unison with those gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome, when Pope Francis declared the pontiff from Poland a saint.

"This is a great day for Poland, this is a great day for me," said emotional Maria Jurek from Katowice. "He changed Poland and he changed us with his teaching and with his visits here."

Jurek got up at 4.30 a.m. to join a pilgrimage organized by her parish church — complete with papal yellow and white flags, portable canvas stool and own food — to watch the Vatican ceremony live on giant screens at the new John Paul II sanctuary in Krakow that is competing for pilgrims with the neighboring God's Mercy sanctuary.

Some 20,000 pilgrims from around Poland gathered in the two centers.

In the pope's hometown of Wadowice crowds were spilling from the spacious basilica into John Paul II square.

Throughout Poland, the Vatican transmission was followed by a Mass of thanksgiving for the sainthood of a figure believed to be one of the greatest Poles ever. (AP)

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