Nightly News | May 01, 2011
>>> this was a joyous day in rome as one of the biggest crowds in vatican history witnessed the beatification of pope john paul ii . the last milestone before sainthood. ann thompson is in rome for us tonight. good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, lester. six years after his death pope john paul ii can still draw a crowd as today the faithful answered the call. under a perfect roman sky, a massive demonstration of faith. 1.5 million catholics crowding every cobblestone in st. peter's square and beyond. here pope john paul ii declared blessed. the unveiling of a joint tapestry of the late pontiff signals his beatification and unleashed a wave of emotion. many in the crowd flood to the streets to get a spot in the square.
>> we camped out until 4:00 in the morning. then we got in line for about five hours. but it was worth it.
>> reporter: susan labelle came to honor the man who changed her life.
>> in '93 came to denver. he turned me around and made me look at christ.
>> reporter: at mass, this french none who says john paul cured her parkinson's disease carried a relic of his blood to the alter. igniting memories of that tragic day in 1981 for chicago's cardinal francis george .
>> with the relic, you know, his blood was spilled on that piatsa. now his blood is at the alter. i found that overpowering.
>> reporter: the proudest people in the square were john paul 's fellow fold. waving their colors. pope benedict xvi remembered his predecessor as a rock, restoring christianity as a religion of hope. yet the priesthood still reels from the sex abuse scandal, critics accuse john paul of ignoring. for father robert gall and the priests who call himself the john paul generation --
>> one could perceive that.
>> reporter: after mass, swarms of pilgrims filed by john paul 's casket. a final show of gratitude to a man already a saint to so many. now, the pope needs one more miracle to be cannonized a saint. tonight the faithful continue to file past his coffin. the vatican says the basilica will remain open until the last person has prayed. lester?
>> anne thompson in rome for us tonight, anne, thank you.