Catholics, LA Archdiocese mark canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII

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Catholics around the world are celebrating two popes who are about to be made saints this weekend. The L.A. Archdiocese is marking the historic canonization with a special ceremony and exhibit at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. The music and prayer event on Saturday night is timed to coincide with the canonization ceremony in Rome.

The cathedral is also welcoming visitors to a new exhibit honoring the soon-to-be Saints.

"We’re going to have a perpetual shrine to these two great popes," said Father Ed Benioff, the Director of New Evangelization for the L.A. Archdiocese. "This is the first time in our church's history that we are going to have two popes canonized at the same time."

Related: Some victims of Catholic Church sex abuse oppose Pope John Paul II reaching sainthood

Father Benioff said the artifacts of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII are now officially relics.

"A first class relic is something from their body like a piece of hair. In this case we have a piece of bone from Pope John XXIII," Benioff said.

The relic is in a golden cross about the size of a hand mirror. Encased in glass at the center is a tiny chip of bone about the size of a fingernail.

Father Benioff explains the spiritual significance of the relics: "a reminder for us Catholics that we believe in the communion of saints."

Much of the exhibit is dedicated to remembering Pope John Paul II's visit to Los Angeles in 1987, including the vestment he wore as he spoke to the crowds at the L.A. Coliseum and Dodger Stadium.

L.A. artist Lalo Garcia designed them for the Pope.

“And I feel blessed," Garcia said. "That in my lifetime, I had the opportunity to create this vestment, for now a saint. It’s a very strange phrase to say: ‘I did something for a saint.’"

Garcia made sure the pope was carrying all of the Americas on his shoulders during his visit. He put pieces of cloth from each country into the design. He says the small squares of fabric on the robes are meant to evoke a mosaic or stained glass window, and the pieces of fabric came from almost all the countries in the Americas and other places around the world.

"The idea was to somehow represent the community of Los Angeles, which is the world, in his vestments," Garcia said. 

If you want to keep up with the events at the Vatican in a whole new way, you can download the Pope Francis News App, created by Italian Press Agency ANSA.

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