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Three founders to be saints on 23 October

· The Pope held an Ordinary Public Consistory for the vote on several causes of canonization ·

On Monday morning, 21 February, in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall, Benedict XVI held an Ordinary Public Consistory to approve the canonization of the three Blesseds: Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti, Bishop of Parma and Founder of the Pious Society of St Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions (Xaverian Missionaries); Luigi Guanella, priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Charity and the Institute of the Daughters of St Mary of Providence; Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro, virgin, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of St Joseph. An Ordinary Public Consistory is a meeting of the cardinals who are present in Rome.

The Pope arrived at about noon in the Consistory Hall where 47 cardinals had gathered. At the beginning of the celebration of Midday Prayer, he briefly announced the agenda, introducing the topics to be discussed. The singing of Psalms 118 and 70 followed, ending with the proclamation of the Lectio brevis taken from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans (6:22).

Cardinal Angelo Amato, sdb, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, then took the floor. After the Prefect had finished his pleading for the three causes of canonization, the Pontiff asked the Cardinals — including Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertoni, sdb, Secretary of State — and the more than 30 prelates present — including Archbishop Fernando Filoni, Substitute of the Secretariat of State and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States — their opinion on the three canonizations proposed. At the end of the Latin ceremony the Holy Father decided to add Bl. Conforti, Bl. Guanella and Bl. Rodríguez de Castro to the register of saints. The date of the canonization was established: it will take place on 23 October 2011.

The College of Cardinals is divided into three orders: cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons. Cardinal deacons have long enjoyed the right to “opt for the order of cardinal priests” ( optazione ) after they have been cardinal deacons for ten years. They may on such elevation take a vacant title (church allotted as the titular dignity of a cardinal priest) or their existing diaconate may be elevated to a presbyteral title for that occasion.

Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, Proto-Deacon of the Ss. Angeli Custodi at Città Giardino was raised to the order of priests; Benedict XVI granted him to keep the deaconry, raised pro hac vice to the presbyteral title. The Pope also confirmed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran of the deaconry of Sant’Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine in the office of proto-deacon (senior cardinal-deacon).

Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan had been the proto-deacon until his elevation, which leaves Cardinal Tauran as proto-deacon. By tradition, it is the proto-deacon who makes the announcement from the loggia of St Peter’s Basilica, introducing a newly elected Pope to the world. Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, Deacon of Sant’Eustachio, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejía, Deacon of San Girolamo della Carità, and Cardinal Roberto Tucci, sj, Deacon of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio, asked to be raised to the order of priests. Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Secretary of the College of Cardinals presented the same request to the Pope on behalf of the absent Cardinal Walter Kasper, Deacon of Ognissanti in Via Appia Nuova. Benedict XVI granted the five Cardinals to keep their respective deaconries, raised pro hac vice to the presbyteral title.

The Pope then led the prayer for the Church, invoking the presence of the Trinity in the life of the People of God. The triple invocation ended with the singing of the Pater noster .

Lastly the Holy Father imparted the Apostolic Blessing to those present. Immediately afterwards Mons. Guido Marini, Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, asked Mons. Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, Protonotary Apostolic, to draft the public instrument ad perpetuam rei memoriam .

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