LONDON — The Vatican has announced that the late Pope John Paul II will be made a saint, after Pope Francis approved a second miracle attributed to the Polish pontiff. John Paul II led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005.
It was in the small Costa Rican town of La Union de Tres Rios where the Vatican says Pope John Paul II performed his second miracle since his death - the criteria required for sainthood.
The late pontiff was credited with curing Floribeth Mora, a woman from the town who had a severe brain injury. Her family prayed to the pope's memory and says she was cured on May 1, 2011.
Mora's neighbor Cecilia Chavez voiced the community's feelings.
"How can it be that in a small country such as Costa Rica, in this poor small neighborhood, this miracle took place? It's amazing! There are no words to describe it," she said.
Floribeth Mora had walked into a hospital in Costa Rica's capital San Jose complaining of a headache.
Neurosurgeon Alejandro Vargas Roman, who diagnosed her with a brain aneurysm, says the question of why it disappeared without surgical intervention is without explanation. "I have never read about this anywhere around the world," he said.
John Paul had already been credited with healing a French nun of Parkinson's disease.
Vatican media reports suggest the canonization ceremony could come as soon as December.
At London's Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor gave his reaction.
"We shouldn't be too surprised that this has happened quite quickly after his death," he said. "Because certainly in my lifetime, and many others,' he's been the most outstanding pope. And they have Pope Gregory the Great, Pope Leo the Great, I think this will be Pope John Paul the Great."
Worshippers at Westminster Cathedral welcomed the news.
Sisters Alice Heerey and May Lovett were visiting from Ireland.
They said: "Wonderful news for the Catholic Church Yes. And let's hope that it brings more people back to the Church. Especially the young people."
Pope John Paul II led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005 - during the fall of communism, including in his native country of Poland.
But human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell questioned John Paul's legacy.
"On women's rights and gay rights, he opposed them both within the Church and within the wider society," he said. "He supported laws that discriminate against women and against gay people. I don't think such a person is fit for sainthood."
The Vatican announced another former pontiff, Pope John XXIII, will also be made a saint after the current Pope Francis waived the customary rules which require a second miracle.