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Excitement over canonization of popes in Vatican City extends to Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Popes John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized Sunday by Pope Francis in an unprecedented ceremony witnessed by huge crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Millions more around the world watched as two former pontiffs were for the first time installed as saints in a dual canonization -- and that includes Catholics in the Milwaukee area.

"These two men left a huge impact on the modern Catholic Church. John in calling the council and John Paul in projecting the message of Christ in an international sphere," Father Steven Avella -- a professor at Marquette University said.

Ruth Wucherer has been a practicing Catholic her entire life. She grew up with John Paul II as Pope -- a man who took Christianity to the ends of the earth.

"He traveled a lot throughout the world. I don't know how many trips he made, but I think he's our best traveled Pope," Wucherer said.

Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were recounted throughout Sunday morning services at Lumen Christi Church in Mequon.

They are names worthy of veneration.

"Not our adoration but our veneration -- people that we would admire in much the same way we would admire Lincoln," Father Avella said.

Milwaukee's Archbishop Jerome Listecki traveled to the Vatican to watch and pray in person, as Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

"I've said it's kind of like World Youth Day, the World Cup and the Papal Conclave all rolled into one. People would spontaneously break into song, spontaneously break into prayer -- people coming up and asking for blessings," Archbishop Listecki said.

Back in Wisconsin was a church filled with people who won't soon forget the progress and sanctity of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II -- and the Pope who canonized them.

"He was quite aware of the gravity of the moment and what he was saying about two of his predecessors. Two that he knew -- particularly, John Paul II," Father Avella said.

It is estimated that more than 800,000 people visited St. Peter's Square in the Vatican for Sunday's canonization.


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