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Pope Canonizes Five New Spanish Saints Before Crowd of 1 Million

A massive crowd in the shape of a cross gathered around Pope John Paul II (searchon Sunday as he proclaimed five new Spanish saints.

An estimated one million people spread out along four boulevards intersecting at Plaza de Colon, where a huge altar was erected for the canonization Mass.

The ceremony honored two priests and three nuns, all 20th century figures commemorated for their work with the poor.

"We inscribe them in the book of the saints, and establish that in all the church they be devoutly honored among the saints," the pope said. Giant pictures of the five hung from an office building overlooking the plaza.

The canonization was the centerpiece of ailing John Paul's visit, his fifth to Spain and first outside Italy in nine months.

One of the priests, Pedro Poveda (search), was killed in 1936 during the opening days of the Spanish Civil War.

The church claims 4,184 clergy were killed during the war by the government, or Republican, side, which accused the church of backing fascist Gen. Francisco Franco.

The other four new saints are Angela de la Cruz (search), who founded the Sisters of the Company of the Cross; Genoveva Torres, who founded the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and of the Holy Angels; Maravillas de Jesus, who founded convents for the Order of Barefoot Carmelites, and Jose Maria Rubio, a Jesuit priest.

Sunday's service raised the number of saints John Paul has proclaimed in his nearly 25-year papacy to 469. He has proclaimed more saints than any other pontiff, stressing the need for role models for today's Catholics.

In the crowd, people carried banners or pictures of their favorite saints.

Elisa Ramo, 66, said that the pope's canonization of Poveda "sends the message that we should end all hatred and all killing."

Magdalena Abedaro, a 55-year-old midwife from Cadiz in the southern Andalusia region, said her favorite saint was Angela de la Cruz because she came from nearby Seville and had performed many miracles.

"One woman in my hospital who has been in a coma for three months was saved by Angela de la Cruz," Abedaro said.

The plaza filled up long before the Mass, with worshippers carrying beach chairs, binoculars and sandwiches, playing tambourines and singing.

"I love to see the pope. It makes me feel renewed," said Nuria Moreno, 68. "I don't need to touch him or hear him. Seeing him is enough."

People clapped and waved small yellow and white Vatican flags as the pope rode around the downtown area before Mass in his special, bulletproof car with large windows, surrounded by a dozen or more plainclothes police. The pope waved to them wearily.

Eight giant TV screens have been set up around the plaza for people to watch the Mass, and communion was to be given out by 1,500 priests shuttling around in minibuses.

The five new saints were beatified in the 1980s and 1990s. Beatification requires evidence of a miracle after the person's death. Sainthood requires evidence of a second miracle.

At Sunday's Mass, sitting near the altar, were five people who the church claims experienced such miracles.

One was Antonio Diez, a 51-year-old army lieutenant who fell into a coma at Christmas in 1971 because of complications from a stomach ulcer. The church says he was cured after his family prayed to Genoveva Torres.

The pope made world peace a theme of the first day of this weekend visit, the highlight of which was a meeting with an estimated 600,000 youths -- double the church's prediction -- at an air base outside the city.

Spanish newspapers and worshippers said the Pope looked better than they had expected. The pope turns 83 this month and shows symptoms of Parkinson's disease. He moves around on a trolley because knee and hip ailments make it hard for him to walk.

"I found him quite rejuvenated," said Nori Ramirez, a 46-year-old maid. "I expected him to be more frail. This pope is an exceptional man. Many others could not put up with all this commotion."