Thousands have gathered in Rome in preparation for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on Sunday.
The process usually takes centuries, however John Paul's successor, Pope Benedict, fast-tracked the beatification just six years after his death.
Before Sunday's mass, the coffin of John Paul was exhumed and will be placed before the main altar for viewing. After the ceremony, he will be known as "the Blessed John Paul II" and will be one step closer to sainthood.
The movement doesn't come without protests as many believe the former pope helped to cover up the sexual abuse claims made against the Catholic Church.
Others argue that his beatification simply symbolizes the approval of a popular pope who helped bring down Communism.
Andrea Riccardi, the founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a liberal Catholic group and a biographer of John Paul testified in favor of his beatification:
"This beatification is different because this pope is different. He’s a man with a role in history, not just in church history. The seal of sainthood doesn’t close the debate on history. In a certain sense, for many Catholics he’s already a saint, even without beatification and, let’s be honest, even without a miracle."
Whether or not anyone approves the beatification, it still is history in the making and will be a reason to celebrate his life and the Church.
[Images via Abaca USA.]
Tags: beatification ceremony, pope john paul ii, vatican