VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis said Monday that Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints April 27, the first time two former popes will have been canonized the same day and making John Paul's path to sainthood the shortest ever.
Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were two of the most beloved and charismatic popes in recent times, and so far Francis has drawn comparisons to both men.
Francis' declaration in July that he would canonize them together -- the decision required a second miracle to be attributed in the case of John Paul and the requirement for a second miracle to be suspended for John -- was one of the first high-profile acts of his young papacy.
Catholics in Rome said they were thrilled by the news, and some speculated the timing of the ceremony just a week after Easter promised to make next April an exceptionally busy period on the Catholic calendar.
"I can already tell you the reception will be enormous," said Sandro Costa, 44, the manager of a shop selling religious items near the Vatican.
"Easter is always a big event for the faithful and it will be more the case because Francis is so loved. And then a week later, to have the canonization service for two popes loved by almost everyone, it will be the busiest period in years," Costa said.
Kasia Pawlak, 35, a school teacher from Poland in Rome on holiday, predicted the canonization Mass would result in another mass arrival of Poles, just as was the case for John Paul's funeral and many events during his life.
"I am 100 percent sure that there are already many people in Poland making plans to drive to Rome for this event," she said.
Angela de Renzi, a 79-year-old retired Roman restaurant worker, said she "adored" both John XXIII and John Paul II and will be at the Mass next April 27 come rain or shine.
"It will be a way to pay my respects again to two very holy men who moved me when they were alive," she said.
With the ceremony set to take place nine years and 25 days after his death, it will make John Paul II the fastest church figure to achieve sainthood.
Many figures are declared saints centuries after their death, and so far the fastest has been Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva, who was declared a saint by John Paul in 2002, 27 years and three months after he died.
The miracles of John Paul II are curing a French nun of Parkinson's disease and a Costa Rican woman of a brain aneurism, both after they prayed in his name. The miracle of John XXIII is that he saved the life of an Italian nun who was born without certain organs.
Eric J. Lyman, Special for USA TODAY