On Sunday, Pope Francis will canonize two pontiffs -- Pope John Paul II and John XXIII-- in a single Catholic ceremony, marking the first time that two popes were made saints at the same time. The ceremony will take place on April 27, 2014 at 12:30 a.m. PDT/3:30 a.m. EDT.
Pope Francis said that a joint canonization would be "a message for the Church: these two were wonderful, both of them." John XXIII was elected pope in October 1958 and convened the Second Vatican Council. He died in 1963 and was beatified in 2000 by John Paul II.
John Paul II was elected in 1978 and died in 2005. He was beatified in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, who waived the traditional five-year waiting period to begin the sainthood process.
Each achieved considerable international stature: John Paul II for encouraging the fall of Communism in his native Poland and across Eastern Europe, and John XXIII for assembling the liberalizing Second Vatican Council, which ran from 1962 to 1965.
Candidates for sainthood usually have two miracles attributed to them. But Pope Francis approved the canonization of John XXIII with only one - the curing of an ailing woman - which Father Lombardi said in July was a result of eagerness to honor "the great pope of the Second Vatican Council." So the canonization should be seen "in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and the universally heartfelt fame that surrounds John XXIII."
While millions of pilgrims are expected to attend the Catholic Church's double canonization at St. Peter Square, for those who cannot make it to Rome, you can watch the mass live stream online at 2popesaints official website or on Vatican Youtube Channel.
Worldwide viewers will also be able to watch the historic event live in 3-D movie theaters in 20 countries across North and South America and Europe. To find a cinema near you, visit: http://www.canonisationliveincinemas.com/. Admission will be free.
In addition, retired Pope Benedict XVI will join Pope Francis during the ceremony, creating a singular celebration of four pontiffs, alive and dead. It's the first time Benedict has joined Francis in celebrating Mass in public since his resignation in 2013.