ROME — Pope Francis created 10 new saints on Sunday after knee pain forced him to use a wheelchair to preside over the Vatican’s first canonization in more than two years.
Pope Francis stood for a long time at the beginning to greet priests celebrating Mass, presided over the ceremony for nearly two hours, and then stood and walked for a full 15 minutes at the end, welcoming dozens of cardinals and bishops. Vatican cameras hovered over the scene, as if to demonstrate the Pope’s mobility and refute speculation about his health and the Pope’s future.
Francis, 85, then went on a long, seated papal limousine tour of St. Peter’s Square and the boulevard leading to the square to meet some of the tens of thousands who came to celebrate the Catholic Church’s newest saint. They include a Dutch priest and journalist killed by the Nazis, an Indian believer killed for his faith, and six French and Italian priests and nuns who founded religious groups.
Francis told more than 45,000 people that 10 embodies holiness in everyday life, saying the church needs to embrace the idea, not an unattainable ideal of personal achievement.
“Holy is not made up of a few heroic gestures, but of many little acts of everyday love,” he said, sitting in a chair at the altar.
Francis, who has been complaining about a torn ligament in his right knee for months, was recently seen using a wheelchair in a public audience. Sunday’s ceremony proved Francis was still able to walk, but appeared to be trying to heal the ligament as easily as possible ahead of a stressful trip that began in July: the Vatican has confirmed two trips for the month, one to Congo and South Sudan and one to Canada.
It was the first canonization mass at the Vatican since the coronavirus pandemic and drew one of the largest crowds in recent memory, aside from last month’s Easter celebrations.
The Italian President, the Dutch Foreign Minister, the French Interior Minister and the Indian Minority Affairs Minister and tens of thousands of worshippers packed the sunny square decorated with Dutch flowers in memory of the martyr saint Reverend Titus Brandsma 1942 Killed in Dachau concentration camp.
On the eve of the canonization, a group of Dutch and German journalists formally proposed that Branzma join Saint Francis de Salles as the joint patron saint of journalists as he works to combat propaganda and fake news during the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe. According to an open letter sent to Francis this month, journalists noted that Branzma successfully advocated for a ban on printing Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers. The pope did not immediately respond.
In addition to Branzima, the new saints include Lazarus, an 18th-century Indian convert, also known as Devashayam, who mixed with India’s lower castes and was deemed treason by the Indian palace and ordered his arrest in 1752 and execute him.
“He served the poor,” said Arachi Syril, an Indian pilgrim from Kanyakumari, who attended Mass in the square. “He hated the caste system, which is still going on, but he was the one who died for it,” Cyril said.
Also canonized were the French priest César de Bus, who founded the religious order of the fathers of Christian doctrine and who died in 1607; Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Italian priest who cared for orphans, died in 1607. Died 1886; Giustino Maria Russolillo, an Italian priest who founded a religious community dedicated to promoting religious vocations, died in 1955; French missionary Charles de Foucauld reborn at a young age Having discovered his faith, he decided to live among the Tuaregs of the Saharan Algeria and was killed in 1916.
The four nuns were: Marie Riviere, who overcame a sick childhood to become a nun in France and found religious order, and died in 1838; Maria Francesca di Gesù Rubatto, an Italian nun who helped establish the A religious order, who died in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1904; and Italians Maria di Gesù Santocanale and Domenica Mantovani, who founded the religious order and died in 1923 and 1934, respectively.
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