Picture: Sophia Loren The 81st Annual Academy Awards (Oscars) - Arrivals at the Kodak Theatre Hollywood, California - 22.02.09
Screen veteran Sophia Loren has called on leaders of the Catholic Church to approve the beatification of late pope John Paul II - a move which would cement the religious leader's place in history.
The Italian actress, a devout Roman Catholic, has written her to church officials to explain how much the former pope - who died in 2005 - meant to her and her fellow followers.
She writes, "I jealously keep the memory of John Paul II in my heart. It is a daily memory. I went to the tomb of John Paul II in the Vatican to pay homage to him and pray, in order to show my great admiration and devotion.
"I also turned to him to get his benediction for my entire family at a particular moment."
The case for John Paul II's beatification - a process which is one step before a person is made a saint - was put on fast-track a month after his death by his successor Benedict XVI. The usual waiting period is five-years.
A Catholic must have performed a miracle in the eyes of the church - such as curing illness without medical explanation - to be entered into the beatification process. A second miracle must be evident to become a saint.
The quickest beatification happened in 2003 for Mother Teresa, six years after her death in Calcutta.
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