By Emilie Ng
SAINT Peter’s successors Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII joined the thousands of souls proclaimed as saints by the Church at their canonisation in St Peter’s Square today.
Pope Francis announced in late September that he would proclaim the two popes as saints on Divine Mercy Sunday.
The Polish Catholic community in Bowen Hills expressed great excitement that the Church was adding a new Polish saint to great host of saints.
Our Lady of Victories assistant priest Fr Zenon Broniarczyk met Pope John Paul II during his visit to Brisbane in 1986.
“He was unbelievable,” Fr Broniarczyk said.
“If you meet him, you cannot describe what it is like.”
It’s a timely day to canonise Pope John Paul II, who gave the Church the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday to commemorate a vision of a Polish nun, St Faustina Kowolska, who was from his hometown.
He was called to the pontificate at the age of 58.
Pope John XXIII, the 261st Bishop of Rome, also gave the Church a great gift – the Second Vatican Council.
Catholics, especially Italians, called him “good Pope John”.
He was 78 when he began his five year long pontificate.
Scalabrinian Father Angelo Cagna was a third-year seminarian when he saw Cardinal Roncalli be elected as Pope John XXIII in 1958.
“When he was elected he said to the people, ‘As the moon is shining down on us, go back home to caress your children and tell them it is from the pope’,” Fr Cagna said.
Fr Cagna said as a cardinal, John XXIII always wanted to be an “approachable brother”.
“I remember when John XXIII went to Assisi by train, and for his first Christmas as Pope he visited the people in jail,” he said.
“In Italy you come across many families with pictures of John XXIII in their homes.”
Fr Cagna said he was sure the good pope carried a Scalabrinian spirit after meeting the order’s founder Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said while the two popes were “amazingly different men” in personality and leadership style, they shared in the same God-given ministry.
“Each of these men for all their differences were called to exercise the same ministry, which we sometimes call the Petrine Ministry,” he said.
“We believe there was some mysterious exchange between Jesus and Peter where he says you are Peter, the rock, and on this rock I will build my Church.”