Courtesy of Vatican News
By Alexander Santana
Five men and two women were canonized as the newest Saints of the Roman Catholic Church last Sunday at the Vatican. During a mass in St. Peter’s Square Pope Francis told the over 70,000 people present to look at the lives lived by Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Fr. Francesco Spinelli, Fr. Vincenzo Romano, Sr. Maria Katharina Kasper, Sr. Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, and 19-year-old Nunzio Sulprizio. In his homily the Holy Father told the audience,
“All these saints, in different contexts, put today’s word into practice in their lives, without luke warmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind” said Pope Francis in his homily. He continued “Brothers and sisters, may the Lord help us to imitate their example.” Present in the audience were several representatives of the countries where the saints were originally from including Queen Sofia of Spain and the Presidents of Italy, El Salvador, Panama and Chile.
Paul VI was elected in 1963 after the death of Pope John XXIII and continued to serve as Pontiff until his death in 1978. The Italian-born Giovanni Battista Montini continued the Second Vatican Council that had begun under John XXIII’s papacy and implemented its reforms, wrote the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae about marriage and contraception, and gave the Blessed Virgin Mary the tile of Mother of the Church a year after succeeding Saint John XXIII.
Oscar Romero, now El Salvador’s first saint, is best known as the Archbishop of San Salvador who advocated for defense of the poor and an end to the tragic violence occurring in El Salvador during the 1970s until his assassination by a right-wing group while celebrating mass in March 1980. Radio transmitted his weekly homilies across El Salvador and is seen today by leftist groups across Latin America as a martyr against right-wing military dictatorships and a voice against mass poverty and political and economic injustice in nations across the region.
Vincenzo Romano lived in Italy from 1751 to 1831 and became devoted to the Blessed Sacrament as well as to helping the poor in the area near Naples. Sr. Maria Katharina Kasper founded the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and served the poor and ill of Germany until her death in 1898 at the age of 77. Catholic News Agency reports there are currently “690 sisters in 104 houses in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Mexico and India.”
Sr. Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa was born in Spain but went on to serve in Latin America where she founded the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church in 1926. The sisters of her order treated victims of the 1932-1935 Chacho War between Paraguay and Bolivia. She went back to her hometown of Madrid, Spain but was forced to leave as the Spanish Civil War between the communist republicans supported by the Soviet Union and the traditional Catholic nationalists led by Spain’s future 35-year dictator, Francisco Franco. Saint March Mesa died in Argentina at the age of 54 from hemoptysis.
Italian Nunzio Sulprizio, who the Holy Father described in his homily as “the saintly, courageous, humble young man who encountered Jesus in his suffering, in silence and in the offering of himself” lived 19 years of pain and suffering. In his short life on earth Saint Sulprizio developed gangrene, had one of his legs amputated, and died from bone cancer in 1836. Despite what he went through Saint Sulprizio once said, “Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for Him? I would die in order to convert even one sinner.”
With the addition of these seven saints a total of 892 people have been canonized during Pope Francis’ papacy since it began in March 2013. In comparison 45 people were canonized during Pope Benedict XVI ‘s nine-year papacy from 2005-2013 and 482 were canonized during Pope John Paul II’s 26-year papacy from 1978-2005.