Vatican declares Popes John Paul II, John XXIII saints
Huge crowds gathered in Vatican City to see a historic ceremony where two popes - John Paul II and John XXIII - were declared saints.
A Mass co-celebrated by Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict was watched by roughly one million pilgrims and a vast TV and radio audience.
Nearly 100 foreign delegations are attending, including royal dignitaries and heads of state and government. It is the first time two popes have been canonised at the same time. Correspondents say the move is being seen as an attempt to unite conservative and reformist camps within the Roman Catholic Church. In his sermon, Pope Francis paid tribute to the two new saints as “men of courage”. “They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th Century,” he said. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful.”
Special bus, train and boat services ferried many thousands of pilgrims to Rome for the two-hour ceremony, which started at 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT).
Some had bagged places to sleep overnight as close as possible to St Peter’s Square, hoping to be among the first in when it opened to the public.
Giant screens were set up in nearby streets and elsewhere in the city for those unable to get into the square.
“We’ve been counting down the days. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said one pilgrim from Poland, John Paul II’s home country. The head of the task force in charge of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons says Damascus still holds about 7.5% of its 1,300-tonne stockpile at one site.
Envoy Sigrid Kaag urged the Syrian government to meet a Sunday deadline to remove its arsenal from the country.
All Syria’s chemical weapons are scheduled to be destroyed by 30 June.
The Russian-US deal to eliminate Syria’s arsenal was drawn up last year after hundreds of people died in a sarin rocket attack outside Damascus.
The multinational mission to get rid of the weapons is overseen by the UN Security Council and the Organisation