Pope canonises three new saints

23rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI canonised three founders of religious orders as saints of the Catholic Church in St. Peter's Square on Sunday in recognition of their missionary activity and social work.

"Christians can show the world God's love by loving their neighbour. Today, the Church shows its members three new saints who let themselves be transformed by divine charity," the pope told a packed square of pilgrims.

The new saints are two Italians, Guido Maria Conforti (1865-1931) and Luigi Guanella (1842-1915), and a Spaniard, Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro (1837-1905).

Conforti was a bishop who founded the "Society of San Francesco Saverio for Foreign Missions" -- a congregation of missionaries known as "Saveriani".

"With all his strength he dedicated himself to the good of those souls in his care, especially those who had distanced themselves from the path of the Lord," the pontiff said about Conforti, as Saveriani members looked on.

The history of each new saint was read out to members of their religious orders and pilgrims who prayed as a choir sang on the Cathedral's steps under huge portraits of Conforti, Guanella and Castro draped from the facade.

Guanella worked with mentally handicapped people and abandoned children and founded an organisation called the "Servants of Charity".

He "brought comfort and relief to the poorest and the weakest," and shone with "God's presence and charity, the God who defended the stranger, the widow, the orphan, the poor man," Benedict XVI said.

Rodriguez Castro, the daughter of a tailor, was also active in social help and helped create jobs for women marginalised from society. She founded the "Congregation of Servants of Saint Joseph."

"From a young age Saint Bonifacia knew how to honour Jesus Christ in her daily work... The Servants of Saint Joseph were born out of humility and the simplicity of the Gospel," he said.

Benedict has canonised 34 people since the beginning of his pontificate in 2005 -- a far lower rate than his predecessor, John Paul II.

© 2011 AFP

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