Pope John Paul II proclaimed three new saints Sunday during a canonization mass in Saint Peter's Square. The pope has now elevated to sainthood 476 people during his nearly 25-year papacy. A tired and ailing pope presided over a long ceremony in Saint Peter's square this morning to give the Roman Catholic Church three more role models.
Despite his evident illness, the pope's voice sounded clearer than in recent days. His presence was an indication that his doctors feel the pontiff is still capable of leading such long services.
Concern about the pope's health resurfaced last month when he traveled to Slovakia and was unable to complete his speeches without the assistance of his aides.
Sunday's canonization, the 50th since John Paul became pope in 1978, starts a new round of ceremonies that are certain to test the pope's stamina for the rest of this month.
The pope has proclaimed a huge number of saints during his papacy, more than all of his predecessors put together. Sunday's new saints are all missionaries - from Italy, Germany and Austria.
Their existence, the pope said, highlights that announcing the gospel represents the first service of the church to each individual and the whole of humanity.
Thousands turned out for the ceremony despite the uncertain weather. Many cheered when the pope appeared.
His frail health is of major concern to the faithful just as he prepares to face ceremonies to mark his 25th anniversary as pope later this month - and that will again test his fading strength.