A holy lot of money for sainthood

Pope John Paul II meets schoolchildren in Vatican City.

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Doug Krizner: It's All Saints Day. The price of canonization has gotten a lot more expensive since the days of Christopher and Jude. Verifying miracles isn't cheap.

Luckily, modern saints-in-waiting can get a boost from the Internet. A Vatican website dedicated to making Pope John Paul II a saint is pulling in contributions from around the world. Megan Williams has more from Rome.


Megan Williams: In a small, crowded office in the wing off San Giovanni Basilica in Rome, women sit at tables answering the phone, opening mail and counting cash.

Welcome to the heart of the movement to make Pope John Paul II a saint.

Stefano Chiodo (interpreter): At the moment, Pope John Paul II is, if you'll allow the expression, a big-ticket item.

Webmaster Stefano Chiodo says donations to the cause have jumped from about 300 a day two years ago, when the site first opened, to 1,200 daily now. The popularity of the site is growing, because visitors can get an "ex endumentis" -- a tiny scrap of Pope John Paul II's cassock -- sealed in a prayer card.

Chiodo says donations go towards covering the considerable costs involved in making a saint. The first step is beatification. That requires at least one miracle attributed to John Paul II since his death.

Chiodo (interpreter): The process has incurred heavy expenses. The Vatican lawyer has travelled the world to collect the testimony of many people who say they've benefited from miracles. Then there's a printing of the holy cards with the piece of cloth, the payroll of the staff here.

Chiodo wouldn't say how much the site has raised. Recently though, the Vatican issued an official warning about imitation sites and fake relics -- cloth, for instance, that's been rubbed against Pope John Paul's tomb, and then sold as a holy item.

Vaticanist Tommaso DiBenedetti says the sale of fake relics of Pope John Paul II is now a thriving global business. Ironically, he says it's the huge Vatican push to make John Paul II a saint as soon as possible that's fueling it.

DiBenedetti: Business is increasing because the cult of the personality of Pope John Paul II is more and more strong around the world. People expect now any time that Pope John Paul II will be beatified.

And more than ever, are willing to pay for a piece of his holiness.

In Rome, I'm Megan Williams for Marketplace.

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