Bishop Zubik in Rome as Popes John XXIII, John Paul II become saints

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PITTSBURGH - Bishop David Zubik traveled to Rome with a group of local pilgrims to be present as Popes John XXIII and John Paul II were declared saints on Sunday.

From Rome, Zubik told Channel 11 News over the phone about his experience at the historic double canonization, which was attended by nearly 1 million people.

“It was a phenomenal experience and great to see so many people excited to see both popes become saints at the same time,” said Zubik.

Prior to the Mass, the bishop visited the tomb of John Paul.

“In my prayer I spoke to Pope John Paul and asked him to help me be a good bishop. I want to be the best possible leader I can for people in our area,” said Zubik.

Pope Francis presided over the Mass alongside Pope Benedict XVI, adding to the history of the day for the Catholic Church. An active and a retired pope have never celebrated a Mass together in public prior to Sunday.

Zubik, who sat near Benedict, cardinals and other bishops, said, “I was right there on top, so I saw everything. We were right there at the altar, so that was a phenomenal experience to be that close.”

Those who attended the Mass in St. Peter’s Square with Zubik watched the ceremony from a distance, but told the bishop that they were glad to have been there for the historical event.

The group will return to Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Related story: Bishop Zubik leading local pilgrimage to Rome