At least two Italian newspapers have today claimed that John Paul II will be beatified in October this year, although the date remains highly speculative.

Without naming sources, Il Sole 24 Ore and La Stampa are confidently predicting the ceremony will take place on October 10th in St. Peter’s Square.

Il Sole 24 Ore
says the date cannot be formally announced as “four steps” still need to be taken, but the “organizational machinery for the event, which promises to be of enormous proportions, needs to be set in motion in time, albeit with much discretion.”

The paper says confirmation of a miracle is still needed, although one has already been identified: the healing of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre of the Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood revealed in 2007 that she was healed after praying to the late Pope who also suffered from Parkinson’s.

Committees of doctors, theologians, and bishops from the Congregations for the Causes of Saints still have to confirm that the healing took place without any scientific explanation.

La Stampa says the choice of 10th October and Rome as the date and venue for the beatification has the advantage of ensuring the presence of cardinals, bishops and patriarchs who will be attending the Synod on the Middle East – a geographical area of great concern to Karol Wojtyla.

Shortly before Christmas, Benedict XVI signed a decree recognizing the “heroic virtues”, or spiritual holiness, of John Paul II, the penultimate formal step to beatification.

But despite others having also predicted John Paul’s beatification in the fall, these claims need be taken with a fairly large pinch of salt.

The Vatican is not commenting and officials have been sworn to strict secrecy about the Cause. And without Vatican confirmation of the miracle – which could easily take more than year – this date remains very speculative.