Vatican City — Pope Paul VI is in line to be the next pope proclaimed a saint once the Vatican endorses a "miracle" attributed to his intercession in California, according to an Italian Catholic magazine.
As debate continues about whether popes should be declared saints ahead of Sunday's canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, the weekly "Credere" (or "Believe") has predicted Paul will be beatified in 2014, paving the way for his sainthood.
According to the weekly magazine of the Pauline Fathers, a miracle involving the birth of a baby in California in the 1990s has been attributed to the late Italian pope; the identity of the family and its location has not been revealed.
In a preview of the magazine's forthcoming issue, the article said the cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints would meet May 5 to confirm the miracle attributed to the Italian pontiff, who led the Catholic church from 1963 to 1978.
Once the miracle is approved, Pope Francis will then likely proclaim his beatification in October at the end of the Synod of Bishops, the magazine predicted.
The magazine said the fetus was in a critical condition because of complications during the 24th week of the pregnancy, and doctors predicted the baby would die inside the mother's womb.
"The diagnosis was severe," the magazine article said. "The baby would probably die inside the uterus, or at best, would be born with seriously damaged kidneys."
Doctors advised the woman to terminate the pregnancy but instead the mother reportedly placed an image of the late pontiff and a remnant of his vestments on her stomach and began praying to him.
The baby was born healthy at the 39th week of the pregnancy and witnesses were unable to explain the change in the baby's condition. Doctors closely monitored the child's health, particularly its kidneys, until age 12.
The Vatican launched official inquiries into the case in 2003 and medical experts officially confirmed the inexplicable nature of the child's recovery last year, the magazine said.
Normally, a second miracle is required for a canonization to take place, but Pope Francis waived that requirement for John XXIII, and it is unclear whether he would do the same for Paul VI.
Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in a small town in the northern Italian province of Brescia. Compared to his predecessor John XXIII, Paul was a shy man and is probably best remembered for implementing the reform agenda of the Second Vatican Council that John had started.
More than a million people, including 24 heads of state and more than 90 delegations from around the world, are expected to attend the canonization of John Paul and John XXIII at the Vatican on Sunday.