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Pope returns to Rome after Spain canonisation trip

Pope John Paul II has returned to the Vatican after canonising five new saints in Madrid at the weekend.

He performed the ceremony during an open-air Mass on Sunday in the Spanish capital's Colon Plaza before an estimated one million faithful.

Pope John Paul has canonised a total of 469 saints during his papacy, more than any other pope in church history.

The new saints were all Spanish priests and nuns who lived in the 20th century, and are known for their work with the poor.

On Saturday, he addressed an estimated 600,000 young people at an air base outside the city, urging them, in his words to be "artisans of peace" and counter a wave of violence and terrorism sweeping the world.

The Vatican says the Pope intends to continue his travel schedule with a five-day visit to Croatia next month, despite being weakened by arthritis and symptoms of Parkinson's disease. That will be his 100th trip abroad since becoming the spiritual leader of the world's estimated one billion Catholics.

Voice of America

Apostolic Voyage to Spain, 3-4 May 2003
Pope John Paul II Plans to Travel More (AP)
"Farewell, Spain! Farewell, Land of Mary!" (Zenit)
Pope Urges Spain to Lend Its Catholic Values to a New Europe (Zenit)
Pope Urges Spain to Lend Its Catholic Values to a New Europe (Zenit)
Saint's family basking in the glow (AP)
Pope canonises five new Spanish saints (5/5/03)

6 May 2003