Pope makes four new saints at solemn ceremony

 

Pope Benedict today made four new saints of the Roman Catholic Church, including a French woman who worked among Christian pioneers in the American state of Indiana in the 19th century.

In his second canonization ceremony since his election in April 2005, the Pope told the 30,000 people gathered in warm sunshine in St Peter's Square that the saints, two men and two women, had given up everything to follow Christ.

Unlike his predecessor John Paul, Pope Benedict only presides over canonizations, the final step in the Church's path to sainthood, and has delegated beatification ceremonies, the previous step, to his cardinals.

Mother Theodore Guerin, left her native France in 1839 to found the Sisters of Providence of St Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana, at the request of a French-born bishop there.

"There they found a simple log cabin chapel in the heart of the forest," the Pope said. From this humble beginning she and her companions worked with poor pioneers and set up orphanages and Catholic schools in Indiana that are still active today.

Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia was born into a well-to-do family in Mexico in 1877. He worked with the poor and, as bishop of Veracruz, struggled against the policies of Mexican anti-clerical governments, establishing schools for children.

He was the great uncle of disgraced Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, who was disciplined by Pope Benedict after being accused by seminarians of sexually abusing them.

Father Filippo Smaldone, an Italian priest born in 1848, opened institutes for the deaf-mute in southern Italy and founded the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Today, the order has some 400 members and also works in South America, Africa and Moldova.

Sister Rosa Venerini was an Italian nun born in 1656, who started the first public schools for girls in Italy. She founded an order of teaching nuns, now known as the Maestre Pie Venerini, and opened about 50 schools before her death in 1728.