Pope John Paul II, who’s been placed on the fast track to sainthood, was beatified in Rome today, before heads of state and hundreds of thousands of religious loyals.  Writes The Guaradian:

Beatification is the last step on the road to sainthood, though not all those who are beatified are finally canonised. Before conferring the title of “blessed”, the Roman Catholic church requires evidence of at least one miracle.

John Paul, who died in 2005, is deemed to have interceded with God to bring about the inexplicable cure of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, who was dying of Parkinson’s disease, the same illness that took his own life.

From around the web, some more reading on the event:

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe is in Rome for the ceremony, says Archbishop Cranmer, emanating a “sickening stench.”  Despite an EU ban on Mugabe’s travels, the Vatican is a sovereign state.  Rome has denied specifically inviting Mugabe but claims that he’s there because they maintain diplomatic relations with him.

Angola’s vice president is in Rome for the ceremony, saying it will bring “a better world of love, peace and stability.”

A vail of JPIIs blood will be split between Italy and Poland.  A recent Vatican statement clarifies the state of the blood in a rather interesting detail:

The Vatican’s statement, presumably hoping to dispel any thoughts of supernatural explanation, noted that the blood remains in a liquid state, due to the presence of an “anticoagulant” at the time of collection.

Residents of Naples, Italy, traditionally believe that the dried blood of their patron saint, Januarius, regularly liquefies as a favorable omen for the city.

Rome looked like a Catholic Woodstock today.

Mother Teresa’s record-setting fast-track to sainthood will be shattered by Pope John Paul II by 15 days.  For both, the 5-year wait time was waived.