Pope John Paul II Beatification in May

The late Pope John Paul II is one step closer to becoming a saint.

The Vatican announced on Friday that the revered former head of the Catholic Church will be beatified on May 1, 2011. The beatification will make Karol Jozef Wojtyla the Blessed John Paul II. John Paul II’s beatification will come just over six years since his death and days before he would have turned 91.

The beatification schedule was announced after John Paul II’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed an official decree, according to an AFP report. The Vatican said in a statement that Benedict XVI signed the decree because of John Paul II’s “imposing reputation for saintliness… in life, in death and after death.”

Reports say preparations for the beatification are now underway at St. Peter’s Basilica. As per tradition when a former pope is beatified, John Paul II’s coffin will be taken out of the Vatican’s crypt and moved to the nave of the Basilica. “John Paul II’s coffin will be moved in St. Peter’s Basilica from the Vatican crypt without being opened,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.