Pope Francis announced yesterday, 30 September, that he will formally canonize two of his predecessors, John Paul II and John XXIII, on 27 April 2014. The date falls on the first Sunday after Easter and coincides with the Feast of the Divine Mercy, a feast added to the General Roman Calendar by then-Pope John Paul II in 2000. Based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, the message of the Divine Mercy is one of mercy and forgiveness. Pope John Paul II actively promoted devotion to the Divine Mercy and is closely associated with both Divine Mercy Sunday and Saint Faustina.
Pope Francis’s choice of Divine Mercy Sunday is significant for a number of reasons. First, as noted above, Pope John Paul II is responsible for officially designating the first Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Second, on the same day Pope John Paul II added Divine Mercy Sunday to the liturgical calendar—30 April 2000—he also canonized Saint Faustina. Pope John Paul II had previously beatified Saint Faustina on 18 April 1993. Finally, John Paul II was himself beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday, 1 May 2011, by then-Pope Benedict XVI.
Sometimes referred to as John Paul the Great, Blessed John Paul is still wildly popular and widely revered in his native Poland. The Archdiocesan Museum (Muzeum Archidiecezjalne) in Krakow houses a number of artifacts associated with Blessed John Paul, including his skis, his watch, his personal breviary, and various liturgical vestments. The room where Blessed John Paul once lived has also been restored and contains a number of objects, including Blessed John Paul’s bed and his typewriter. The museum also possesses an assortment of sacred art and relics, primarily of Polish saints.