2009-10-12 14:30:53

Pope declares 5 new saints for Church

(October 12, 2009) Pope Benedict XVI declared five new saints for the Catholic Church on Sunday, including a 19th-century Belgian-born priest known for his work with leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island. Among the pilgrims packing St. Peter's Basilica was Hawaii resident Audrey Toguchi, an 80-year-old retired teacher whose miraculous recovery from lung cancer a decade ago cleared the way for Jozef De Veuster, more commonly known as Father Damien, who himself died from leprosy in 1889 after contracting the disease while working with leprosy patients who were living in isolation on Molokai island.
Among others who were declared saints on Sunday was Zygmunt Szcezesny Felinski, a 19th-century Polish bishop who defended the Catholic faith during the years of the Russian annexation, which had led to the shutdown of Polish churches. Two Spaniards were honoured - Francisco Coll y Guitart, who founded an order of Dominicans in the 19th century, and Rafael Arniaz Baron, who renounced an affluent lifestyle at age 22 to live a humble life in a strict monastery and dedicate himself to prayer. The fifth new saint was Jeanne Jugan, a French nun who founded the Little Sisters of the Poor, which today runs homes for indigent elderly worldwide. She died in 1879.
Pope Benedict said the new saints had given of themselves totally without “calculation or personal gain.” “Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is humanly incomprehensible at times, consists in no longer placing themselves at the centre, but choosing to go against the flow and live according to the Gospel,” Pope Benedict said in his homily delivered in several languages.
Pope Benedict praised St. Damien saying that “not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to Molokai to serve the lepers who were there, abandoned by all,” exposed himself to leprosy, and “felt at home with them.”
At the end of the Canonization Mass, Pope Benedict XVI came out and appeared on a raised dais in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to address thousands of pilgrims who were waiting to recited the weekly midday ‘Angelus’ Marian prayer with him. Once more, he reflected on the value of the witness of the five new saints. Speaking in French, he urged people to pray and help those involved in the battle against leprosy and “other forms of leprosy caused by lack of love or cowardliness.” The pope also asked the faithful to help the work of the Synod for Africa in progress this week in Rome. Among the many pilgrims, the Pope also greeted a group of survivors of nuclear attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. "I pray that the world will never witness such a mass destruction of innocent lives again,” the Pope said.

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