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Pope Benedict prepares to beatify John Paul II

SPECULATION is growing that the pope will today approve the miracle needed to beatify Pope John Paul II, setting the stage for a major celebration this year for the Catholic Church.

Vatican investigators have already confirmed that a young French nun was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to the Polish-born John Paul.

Pope Benedict XVI now must sign off on the miracle and set a date for the beatification, the first major step to sainthood.

Polish Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, former No 2 of the Polish Bishops' Conference and an old friend of the late pope, said yesterday that he understood an announcement could come today. He said the beatification date could be as early as May 1.

Yesterday workers began restoring a mosaic in a chapel near the entrance of St Peter's Basilica, where John Paul's remains would be moved for better public access.

Irish Independent