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With the courage of faithfulness

· The Pope canonizes the Martyrs of Otranto and two Latin American women religious ·

Appeal for the respect of human life from conception


The courage of faithfulness to Christ and to his Gospel: this is the message to Christians of the 802 new saints canonized by the Bishop of Rome in St Peter's Square on Sunday morning, 12 May,  in St Peter's Square. In the first canonization of his pontificate Pope Francis raised to the honours of the altar Antonio Primaldo and his companion Martyrs of Otranto, killed by the Ottomans in 1480, the Colombian religious, Laura of St Catherine of Siena Montoya y Upegui (1874-1949), foundress of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate and St Catherine of Siena, and  the Mexican, Sister María Guadalupe García Zavala (1878-1963), co-foundress of the Handmaids of St Margaret Mary and the Poor.

In his homily the Pope himself described the event as a “celebration of holiness”, highlighting “the luminous examples and teachings that the saints canonized today offer us”. Referring specifically to the 800 martyrs of Otranto, the Pope mentioned that their sacrifice was based on a faith that could surmount “obstacles” and “misunderstandings”, going even to “the supreme witness to the Gospel”. Hence his thought of “all the Christians who still suffer violence today in these very times and in so many parts of the world”. May the Lord, he prayed, “give them the courage to stay faithful and to  respond to evil with goodness”.

Then in presenting Laura Montoya the Pope invited believers “to get the better of the indifference and individualism that corrode Christian communities and eat away our heart”, and “to accept everyone without prejudice, without discrimination and without reticence, but rather with sincere love”. Like María Guadalupe who gave up the comforts and well-being that lead to “the adoption of a bourgeois heart”, dedicating her whole life to “touching the flesh of Christ” in the poor, in the sick and in the abandoned. This witness prompts Christians “not to withdraw into themselves, into their own problems, into their own ideas and into their own interests”, but rather to “to come out and to respond to those who are in need of attention, understanding and help”. At the end of the Mass, before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Pope appealed to the faithful “to continue to pay attention to this most important issue of respect for human life from the moment of its conception”.

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 18, 2019

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