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FINAL STEP TAKEN TO BEATIFY <br> POPE JOHN XXIII

The Vatican today approved the final step necessary for the beatification of Pope John XXIII, crediting him with curing an Italian nun of severe bleeding and infection.

A decree recognizing a miracle attributed to John's intercession was among several approved at a ceremony in the presence of Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican said there was no natural explanation for the recovery of a young Italian nun who had severe stomach bleeding and infection in 1966.

After other nuns put an image of John XXIII on her stomach, the emaciated nun immediately rose from her bed and began eating again.

Last month, the Vatican had declared the "heroic virtues" of John XXIII, who was pope from 1958 to 1963 and convened the Second Vatican Council, which launched such changes as using the local language instead of Latin at Mass.

Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Officials say they expect the beatification to take place during the Vatican's Holy Year celebrations this year.

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