The campaign to make the late Pope John Paul II a saint crossed an important threshold today, on the second anniversary of his death, when the Vatican began to collect the necessary documents to prove he deserves the honor.
The work was done as thousands of the faithful jammed St. Peters Square, with some continuing to honor the fallen pope.
"He still lives in our hearts and in our minds," Chicago resident Alex Garcai told Elizabeth Vargas in Rome.
"We know now that he's a saint," another pilgrim said.
Fast Track to Sainthood
Pope John Paul II may receive the honor of sainthood, thanks to Sister Marie Simone Pierre. The tiny French nun in the audience today in St. Peters Square said the pope cured her of advanced Parkinson's disease.
A testimony of her experience was included in the boxes sealed at Rome's St. John Lateran Basilica; it filled with documents that chronicled John Paul's remarkable life in which he overcame both communism and the Nazis.
The item from 46-year-old Sister Marie described her extraordinary recovery from Parkinson's, a disease which also afflicted Pope John Paul II. She claims she used to shake so badly she could barely walk or write. Then, she said, after a night of praying to John Paul II shortly after his death, she woke up free of the disease and the terrible shaking.
Friday during a news conference she showed her hand and remarked it "no longer shakes."
The Vatican will now decide whether her recovery was sudden, complete and inexplicable and can be attributed to a miracle. It has to be clear that her health improved because of her prayers to John Paul II, and that must be verified by a crack team of medical researchers.
If Vatican doctors declare Sister Marie's recovery a miracle, it would clear the way for Pope Benedict to beatify John Paul. If that happens, it would be the fastest beatification in modern church history.
A second miracle would then be required before the final step to sainthood, but with today's ceremonies, John Paul II is one big step closer.