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.