The Vatican announced Friday that the late Pope John Paul II will be beatified this spring, putting him one step closer to sainthood.
The beatification set for May 1st comes on an accelerated schedule that began just weeks after John Paul's death in 2005, when his successor Pope Benedict XVI waived the traditional five year waiting period for sainthood after a candidate's death. Theological and medical researchers have attributed the miracle of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, to John Paul. The 49-year-old nun said her illness was inexplicably cured two months after his death and after her and her order prayed to him.
The former pontiff will receive the title of "blessed" during the post-Easter ceremony to be held in Saint Peter's Basilica. He must perform a second miracle in order to be canonized and made a saint.
However, the charismatic religious leader, who presided over a 27-year papacy considered to be the most historic and controversial in modern times due to his part in ending communism, his unprecedented global travel and his leadership during recent year sexual scandals associated with the Christian church, does not seem to lack public support of his sainthood. Crowds at his funeral on April 8, 2005, reportedly chanted "Santo subito! (Sainthood now!)."