DC Catholics celebrate dual canonization

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- On Sunday, a historic day, Catholics in the District came to pray and celebrate.

People gathered in Washington to watch a replay of the Vatican ceremony of John the 23rd and John Paul the Second declared saints

David Kirk said, "We are of Polish dissent and born in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. He played a large role in my life. We're celebrating an amazing man and an incredible example for the youth."

Lisa Olson said, "It's an amazing moment for Catholics and for anyone who has been touched by John Paul II. I'm grateful to be here."

The dual canonization also elevates The Blessed John Paul II National Shrine in Northeast, DC which comes into a new era and will now be known as 'Saint John Paul II National Shrine.'

Folks gathered for the unveiling of the new sign Sunday morning.

Patrick Kelly, the JP2 Executive Director said, "We built this shrine so people could come here not only to worship God but also learn about Saint John Paul II because he was such an extraordinary Christian witness. It is our hope people learn about John Paul II and leave here knowing they too can lead a life of virtue and a life of holiness in their own lives."

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Preacher to the Papal Household, appointed by Saint John Paul II and currently serves under Pope Francis.

Having spent 25 years with John Paul II, in some ways, it's hard for him to realize this elevated holiness.

Father Cantalamessa said, "For me he remains John Paul II, the one who embraced me after my sermons of course I was convinced of his holiness. I was impressed all the time."

Such as the time when John Paul II was ill in the last year of his life.

Father Cantalamessa said, "He wanted the text of my meditation sent to him by fax in the hospital. I've never met a person with such strength and courage. He had the capacity with being in touch with the super natural with God."

Father Cantalamessa says he was not in Rome Sunday because he had already committed to holding mass at the Basilica today. At 80-years-old, he says this might be his last trip to North America.


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