Modern Pope John Paul Used Ancient Ritual of Self-Flagellation

Benedict recently moved John Paul a step closer to possible beatification, the first major milestone in the process of becoming a saint, by approving a decree on his "heroic virtues."

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, Holy See Press Office director, said at the time, "With this decree, there is the official declaration that the virtues of John Paul II were heroic, were not ordinary."

The Vatican must now confirm that a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession occurred in order for him to be beatified. The Vatican is now studying the story of a French nun who says praying to him cured her of Parkinson's disease, the same disease from which he suffered Many Vatican watchers have suggested beatification may come as early as October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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