The late Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, will be beatified on May 1, the Vatican has announced.

Pope Benedict has given his official sanction to the beatification, which puts John Paul just one step away from canonization as a saint.

Benedict signed a decree earlier in the week that said John Paul had performed a miracle posthumously, a crucial step on the path to sainthood.

A French nun called Sister Marie Simon-Pierre claimed she was cured of Parkinson’s Disease after praying to John Paul II. She says she dreamed of Pope John Paul II in 2005 and she believed his intervention had led to her dramatic cure. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirmed her claim and the miracle on Tuesday.

It's understood that Pope Benedict will carry out the beatification himself on May Day. However a delay in the sainthood process is still possible because one miracle is needed for the Catholic Church to accord beatification, but two miracles are required for sainthood. 

That means the Vatican must wait until John Paul II can be made a saint. Meanwhile, there has been a dispute over the validity of the original miracle.

Last March, doctors investigating the Sister Marie Simon-Pierre’s claim said that she may not have had Parkinson's Disease in the first place. According to news reports they believed she "might have been suffering from a similar nervous disease, not Parkinson’s, which could go into sudden remission."