POPE John Paul II is setting a record his successors will find hard to beat.

This year, he is set to canonize nine candidates for sainthood, adding to the 456 he has canonized over his 23-year papacy.

In a public consistory last Feb. 26, the Holy Father announced the schedule of canonizations, which include that of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of the Opus Dei; Pio de Pietrelcina, the Franciscan Capuchin friar who received the stigmata; and Juan Diego Cuauhlatoatzin, the visionary of Guadalupe.

Since the processes of canonization and beatification were formalized in 1588, only 302 persons became saints while 1,201 were beatified. John Paul II alone has beatified 1,282.

Padre Pio will be raised to the altar on June 16. Then, on July 30, the Pope will fly from the World Youth Day celebration in Toronto to Mexico to canonize Blessed Juan Diego, after which he will fly to Guatemala for the canonization of its first saint, Pedro de San Jose Betancur, on the following day. Finally, the Pope will canonize Blessed Josemaria on Oct. 6.

The other soon-to-be saints are Alonso de Orozco, an Augustinian; Ignazio da Santhia, a Capuchin; Umile da Bisignano, a Franciscan; Paulina do Coracao Agonizante de Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; and Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, founder of the Institute of Benedictine Sisters of Providence. They will be canonized on May 19.

Meanwhile, Mother Teresa of Calcutta might be beatified before the year ends, advancing her case to sainthood faster than expected.

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Postulators for her cause reported that the gathering of evidence of “heroic virtue” in her life could be completed before Easter.

According to the Italian daily Avvenire, the positio, a summary of the 80 volumes of documents and oral testimony collected on the life of Mother Teresa, would be ready for submission by Easter.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is examining a report of a miracle attributed to Mother Teresa’s intercession. In India, a 30-year-old woman, Monika Besra, is said to have suddenly recovered from both tuberculosis and a stomach tumor after neighbors prayed for Mother Teresa’s intercession.

Ordinarily, a cause for beatification cannot begin until five years after the candidate’s death. But in response to the popular clamor for a speedy process in Mother Teresa’s sainthood, Pope John Paul II waived the usual waiting period in 1999. Alder T. Almo with reports from the Catholic World News

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