Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pope canonizes Father Damien, four others as models of Christian love

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Calling them "shining examples" of Christian love, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed five new saints, including Father Damien de Veuster, the 19th-century Belgian missionary who ministered to people with leprosy in Hawaii before dying of the disease.

At a Mass Oct. 11 overflowing with pilgrims from around the world, the pope also canonized Sister Jeanne Jugan, a French nun whose Little Sisters of the Poor continue to assist the elderly in the United States and more than 30 other countries.

After brief biographies of the five were read aloud, the pope pronounced a solemn decree of canonization and proclaimed them models of holiness for the whole church. Relics of the new saints were placed on the altar as St. Peter's Basilica was filled with a sung "Alleluia."

In his homily, the pope said the newly canonized had typified the Christian vocation of radical conversion and self-sacrifice made "with no thought of human calculation and advantage."

"Their perfection, in the logic of the faith that is sometimes humanly incomprehensible, consists in no longer placing themselves at the center, but in choosing to go against the current by living according to the Gospel," he said.

Thousands of U.S. pilgrims came to Rome for the canonization, including a delegation of leprosy patients and their caregivers from Hawaii, where St. Damien worked and died, and residents from homes for the aged run by Little Sisters of the Poor across the United States.

The basilica was filled beyond capacity, and an estimated 40,000 people watched the liturgy on giant TV screens in St. Peter's Square. The Mass was moved inside at the last minute because of a threat of rain, but blue skies and sunshine prevailed throughout the liturgy.

See also from Zenit, On the Canonization of 5 Saints: "The Virgin Mary Is the Star That Guides Every Journey of Sanctity."

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: Jesus calls us to the total gift of our lives
October 11, 2009

Benedict XVI meets Belgian royals
October 11, 2009


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