Pope Francis created 10 new saints, rallying over knee pain that forced him to use a wheelchair
ROME — Pope Francis created 10 new saints on Sunday, rallying to knee pain that forced him to use a wheelchair to preside over the first canonization ceremony at the Vatican in more than two years.
Francis stood long at the start of the ceremony to greet the priests concelebrating Mass, and hobbled across the altar to proclaim the six men and four women saints. These include a Dutch priest-journalist killed by the Nazis, an Indian lay convert killed for his faith, and half a dozen French and Italian priests and nuns who founded religious orders.
Francis told the crowd estimated at 45,000 in St. Peter’s Square that the 10 embodied holiness in daily life, and said the church should embrace this idea rather than an unattainable ideal of personal fulfillment.
“Holiness is not a few heroic gestures, but many small daily acts of love,” he said from his chair at the altar.
Francis, 85, has been complaining of strained ligaments in his right knee for months and was recently seen in a wheelchair at public hearings. Sunday’s ceremony was proof that Francis is still able to walk, but seems to be taking as easy as possible to let the ligaments heal before a period of intense travel from July: the Vatican confirmed two trips that month, one in Congo and one in South Sudan and one in Canada.
It was the first canonization mass at the Vatican since before the coronavirus pandemic and, aside from Easter celebrations last month, drew one of the biggest crowds in recent times.
The Italian president, the Dutch foreign minister, the French interior minister and India’s minorities minister, along with tens of thousands of worshipers filled the sunny square, which was adorned with Dutch flowers in l honor of Reverend Titus Brandsma, a holy martyr. killed at Dachau concentration camp in 1942.
In the run-up to canonization, a group of Dutch and German journalists officially proposed that Brandsma become co-patron of journalists, alongside Saint Francis de Sales, given his work fighting propaganda and fake news during the rise of fascism and Nazism. in Europe. According to an open letter sent to Francis this month, reporters noted that Brandsma successfully advocated for a ban on the printing of Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers. There was no immediate response from the pope.
In addition to Brandsma, new saints include the 18th century Indian convert Lazarus, also known as Devashayam, who mixed with India’s lower castes and was considered a traitor by the Indian royal palace, who ordered his arrest and execution in 1752.
“He is for the poor,” said Arachi Syril, an Indian pilgrim from Kanyakumari who was in the square for mass. “He hated the caste system, it still continues, but he is a martyr of it,” Syril mentioned.
Also canonized was César de Bus, a French priest who founded the religious order of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine and died in 1607; Luigi Maria Palazzolo, an Italian priest who cared for orphans and died in 1886; Giustino Maria Russolillo, an Italian priest who founded a religious order dedicated to promoting religious vocations and died in 1955; and Charles de Foucauld, a French missionary who, after regaining his faith in his youth, decided to live among the Tuareg peoples of the Algerian Sahara and was killed in 1916.
The four nuns are: Marie Rivier, who overcame a sickly childhood in France to become a nun and founded a religious order and died in 1838; Maria Francesca di Gesù Rubatto, an Italian nun who helped found a religious order and died in 1904 in Montevideo, Uruguay; and the Italians Maria di Gesù Santocanale and Domenica Mantovani, who founded religious orders and died in 1923 and 1934 respectively.
AP visual reporter Gianfranco Stara contributed.