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April 25th, 2014
07:57 AM ET

Three popes, one brilliant move

Opinion by John Carr, special to CNN

(CNN) - This Sunday, Pope Francis will canonize “Good” Pope John and Pope John Paul “the Great.”

These popular references to Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II recall the ancient practice of choosing saints by public acclaim.

Sunday's ceremony, on the other hand, is the result of a more elaborate process and a brilliant decision by their successor, Pope Francis.

Though they will be canonized together, in some ways these two popes were very different people.

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was one of 14 children from an Italian peasant family who became a historian, diplomat, bishop and then Pope John XXIII.

Long before Pope Francis' off-script, populist touches led some to dub him the "people's pope," John broke precedent by escaping the Vatican to visit hospitals and prisons.

He left as a legacy his encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” which was addressed for the first time not just to Catholics, but to all those of “good will.” It reshaped Catholic teaching on human rights and made an impassioned call for peace amid the Cold War.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Italy • Leaders • Opinion • Poland • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

March 26th, 2014
04:17 PM ET

Vatican landmark Obama will miss

CNN's Ben Wedeman gloats over what President Barack Obama likely won't get a chance to see on his visit to the Vatican on Thursday. Take a look inside the Sistine Chapel - and gaze up at its famous ceiling.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Church and state • Italy • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

March 1st, 2014
06:00 AM ET

Stepping-stones to safety: A family flees Syria's war - and finds refuge in Italy's islands

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Lampedusa, Italy (CNN) – Abdel clung to his pregnant wife, 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter as they sailed across an open stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.

They were in a dilapidated fishing boat with limited provisions and almost no sanitation, sharing a cramped space with some 400 other Syrians.

Abdel prayed quietly and recited verses from the Quran for two days and two nights as the boat swayed and motored precariously along the 180-mile route from Libya to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa.

If they could make it, his young family would be one step closer to freedom.

He knew thousands had died making the same voyage.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Europe • Islam • Italy • Libya • Mosque • Muslim • Persecution • Pope Francis • Poverty • Religious violence • Syria

January 19th, 2014
11:10 AM ET

Catholic sect holds funeral rites for Nazi war criminal
Former SS officer Erich Priebke died October 11. His burial is a source of controversy in Rome.
October 15th, 2013
02:07 PM ET

Catholic sect holds funeral rites for Nazi war criminal

By Daniel Burke and Hada Messia, CNN

ROME (CNN) - The Italian branch of a Catholic sect with a history of anti-Semitism held funeral rites on Tuesday for a convicted Nazi war criminal, despite protests from Jewish groups and the local mayor.

Crowds packed the streets outside San Pio X Church in Albano, a small town south of Rome, chanting "Executioner!" and kicking the hearse carrying Erich Priebke's body as entered the church compound on Tuesday.

A funeral Mass was celebrated for Priebke but his casket was kept outside, according to a priest from the church who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The absolution rite, which includes a prayer for clemency for the deceased, was also given outside the church, in the courtyard inside San Pio X's compound, the priest said.

Priebke's body is now being held in a military airport outside Rome.

The church funeral plans for Priebke sparked an outcry in the United States.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Death • Italy • Judaism • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Vatican

Riding the 'white train' in search of a miracle
The journey gives disabled pilgrims a rare opportunity to take a religious vacation.
August 14th, 2013
09:12 AM ET

Riding the 'white train' in search of a miracle

Photographers Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni rode with 600 pilgrims and volunteers as they took the “white train” from Reggio Calabria in southern Italy to the French town of Lourdes. Disabled believers make the journey annually in hopes of a miracle.

Read the story and see their images at CNN Photos

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith & Health • Health care • Italy

Cardinal Dolan charms worshippers at Rome Mass
Cardinal Timothy Dolan waves to supporters after celebrating Mass at this titular church in Rome.
March 10th, 2013
11:51 AM ET

Cardinal Dolan charms worshippers at Rome Mass

By Chris Cuomo and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Rome (CNN) - Crowds lined the walls and spilled out the front door of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monte Mario on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the gregarious American Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, who smiled broadly as he came into the church, stopping to wave to photographers and kiss a baby whose parents were holding him up.

Dolan has made the short lists of some Vatican watchers as a likely choice to be elected as the next pope by the College of Cardinals, a designation called "papabili" in Italian.

A local officiant began the service by saying it was great to have Dolan at the church close to Easter.

"All these people are showing the power of the church," he said.

Dolan thanked the officiant in Italian.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Italy • Mass • Pope • Vatican

Crowds of faithful honor Pope John Paul II
May 1st, 2011
09:32 AM ET

Gallery: Images from the beatification

About a million pilgrims turned out in Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, many waving Polish flags and holding images of the late pontiff, who was archbishop of Krakow in Poland before being elected pope. Click through the gallery above to see more scenes from the Vatican.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Italy • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

Did you encounter Pope John Paul II?
A placard showing the late Pope John Paul II holding a baby is displayed on a lamp post in Rome for the beatification.
April 29th, 2011
03:43 PM ET

Did you encounter Pope John Paul II?

Pope John Paul II is said to have been seen in person by more people than any other figure on Earth. He was pope from his election in 1978 to his death in 2005 and traveled to all corners of the globe to meet people where they lived.

John Paul II will be beatified in Rome on Sunday, the last step before sainthood.

Did you ever see John Paul II in Rome or did he come to your hometown? What was it like to meet the pope? Share your comments with us below.

And you can also share photos and videos through CNN's iReport.

Your stories and images could be included in the beatification coverage on CNN’s Belief Blog.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Europe • Italy • Pope John Paul II

April 27th, 2011
06:58 AM ET

Pope John Paul II's blood to be shown at beatification

By Hada Messia and Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Blood taken from the late Pope John Paul II will be used Sunday as the Vatican declares him "blessed," the last step before sainthood, the Catholic Church announced.

The blood will be on display as a relic for Catholic faithful to venerate at the beatification ceremony, the Vatican said this week.

Special relic holders have been made for two small glass bottles of John Paul's blood, the church said.

Pope Benedict XVI will preside Sunday over the beatification at St. Peter's, an event expected to draw hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful to Rome.

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Italy • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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