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Vatican to beatify Pope Paul on May 1

Vatican City, Jan. 14 (Reuters): The late Pope John Paul II moved a big step closer to Roman Catholic sainthood today when his successor approved a decree attributing a miracle to him and announced that he will be beatified on May 1.

The ceremony in St Peter’s Square marking the last step before sainthood is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people, harkening back to the funeral of the charismatic pope in 2005, one of the biggest media events of the new century.

His coffin will be moved beforehand from its present location in the Vatican crypts and placed under an altar in a chapel in St Peter’s Basilica so more people can pay homage.

“This will be an extraordinary event ... he really deserves it, he was a man who really did great things and was recognised by the whole world,” said Italian tourist Mario Corona.

Church officials have said the miracle attributed to the intercession of John Paul with God concerned Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a 49-year-old French nun diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, from which the pope himself had suffered.

She said her illness inexplicably disappeared two months after his death when she and her fellow nuns prayed to him.

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