A picture of the late Pope John Paul II is seen before the beatification mass led by Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II moves a step closer to sainthood when his successor beatifies him before an expected crowd of several hundred thousand people. Photo: Reuters
A picture of the late Pope John Paul II is seen before the beatification mass led by Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II moves a step closer to sainthood when his successor beatifies him before an expected crowd of several hundred thousand people. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI blesses a portrait of John Paul II as he arrives for the beatification Mass of late Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square, at the Vatican. Photo: AP
Pope Benedict XVI blesses a portrait of John Paul II as he arrives for the beatification Mass of late Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square, at the Vatican. Photo: AP
A tapestry of Pope John Paul II is unveiled during his beatification mass led by Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II moves a step closer to sainthood when his successor beatifies him before an expected crowd of several hundred thousand people. Photo: Reuters
A tapestry of Pope John Paul II is unveiled during his beatification mass led by Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II moves a step closer to sainthood when his successor beatifies him before an expected crowd of several hundred thousand people. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinals pay respect to the coffin of the late Pope John Paul II inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinals pay respect to the coffin of the late Pope John Paul II inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the glass reliquary containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II during his beatification mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the glass reliquary containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II during his beatification mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
The coffin of the late Pope John Paul II is seen inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
The coffin of the late Pope John Paul II is seen inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Cardinals pay their respects at the coffin of the late Pope John Paul II inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Cardinals pay their respects at the coffin of the late Pope John Paul II inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of a mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of a mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the altar at the end of a mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the altar at the end of a mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters
Two nuns kiss the casket of John Paul II inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St Peter's Square and surrounding streets, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood. Photo: AP
Two nuns kiss the casket of John Paul II inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St Peter's Square and surrounding streets, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood. Photo: AP
The coffin of the late Pope John Paul II is seen inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood on Sunday at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago.  Photo: Reuters
The coffin of the late Pope John Paul II is seen inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood on Sunday at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
A tapestry of Pope John Paul II is displayed during his beatification mass led by Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
A tapestry of Pope John Paul II is displayed during his beatification mass led by Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Cardinals arrive in procession as they attend the mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Cardinals arrive in procession as they attend the mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
The online auction site eBay, with a plethora of things up for sale, recently put on the block a bit of papal history, the identity card of Albino Luciani, who later became pope John Paul I.
The online auction site eBay, with a plethora of things up for sale, recently put on the block a bit of papal history, the identity card of Albino Luciani, who later became pope John Paul I.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during a solemn celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI where late Pope John Paul II was beatified in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, in the fastest beatification in modern times. Photo: AP
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during a solemn celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI where late Pope John Paul II was beatified in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, in the fastest beatification in modern times. Photo: AP
A priest prays prior to the start of a solemn celebration for the beatification of late Pope John Paul II, in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, in the fastest beatification in modern times. Photo: AP
A priest prays prior to the start of a solemn celebration for the beatification of late Pope John Paul II, in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, in the fastest beatification in modern times. Photo: AP
Bishops attend during the mass of late Pope John Paul II at the St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Bishops attend during the mass of late Pope John Paul II at the St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Krakow Bishop Jan Zajac holds the reliquary containing a drop of blood of late Pope John Paul II at the start of a procession in the Lagiewniki God's Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland. Photo: AP
Krakow Bishop Jan Zajac holds the reliquary containing a drop of blood of late Pope John Paul II at the start of a procession in the Lagiewniki God's Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland. Photo: AP
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to celebrate a mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to celebrate a mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters
This picture shows a general view of St Peter's square during John Paul II beatification ceremony at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of "blessed" on the late John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square, filled to overflowing as more than one million people took part in the solemn mass. Photo: AP
This picture shows a general view of St Peter's square during John Paul II beatification ceremony at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of "blessed" on the late John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square, filled to overflowing as more than one million people took part in the solemn mass. Photo: AP
Pope Benedict XVI follows a line of prelates as he waves from his popemobile upon his arrival in St  Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St Peter's Square and surrounding streets, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood. Photo: AP
Pope Benedict XVI follows a line of prelates as he waves from his popemobile upon his arrival in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St Peter's Square and surrounding streets, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood. Photo: AP
Polish nun Sister Benedikta prepares candles before a public viewing of the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II in the Lagiewniki God's Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland. Photo: AP
Polish nun Sister Benedikta prepares candles before a public viewing of the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II in the Lagiewniki God's Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland. Photo: AP
Pope Benedict XVI kneels in front of the coffin of the late Pope John Paul II inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI kneels in front of the coffin of the late Pope John Paul II inside St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood at a joyous ceremony that drew more than a million people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. Photo: Reuters

The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood on Sunday at a ceremony that drew about a million and half people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. To the cheers of the crowd, a tapestry showing a smiling John Paul was unveiled after Benedict read the proclamation. St Peter's Square was packed and the crowd stretched as far back as the Tiber River, more than half a km away. The devotees, many carrying national flags and singing, moved towards the Vatican area from all directions from before dawn to get a good spot for the Mass. Police estimated the crowd in the Vatican area at about 1.5 million people. Many camped out during the night in the square, which was bedecked with posters of the late pope and one of his most famous sayings, "Do not be afraid!"

In his homily, Benedict noted that the late Pope, whom he praised as having had "the strength of a titan" and who gave millions of people "the strength to believe", had blessed crowds thousands of times from his window overlooking the same square.