Pope Francis names seven new saints

Pope Francis officially recognised seven new saints, including two towering figures of the 20th century Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI and martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, at St Peter’s Square on October 14.

In front of more than 70,000 faithful, and delegates from the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis singled out Archbishop Romero and Pope Paul VI as men who rejected wealth and devoted their lives to helping the poor, according to the Associated Press.

Romero, known as a champion of the poor and a crusader for justice, was assassinated in 1980. Paul VI, who was pope from 1963-78, led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council in what is regarded as one of the most polarising periods in the Church’s history. The Pope cited both men as a source of inspiration and even wore the bloodstained rope belt that Romero wore when he was gunned down by right-wing death squads in 1980. He also used Pope Paul’s staff, chalice and pallium vestment, according to La Croix International.

In his homily, Pope Francis called Paul a “prophet of a church turned outwards” to care for the faraway poor and said Romero gave up his security and life to “be close to the poor and his people,” the Associated Press reports.

Over 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims traveled to Rome for the canonisation to honour a man considered a hero to many Latin Americans. Tens of thousands more watched the Mass outside the San Salvador cathedral where Romero’s remains are entombed according to Catholic News Service reports.

"I don't think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the 'official' canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive," San Salvadoran pilgrim Carolina Escamilla told La Croix International.

"All these saints, in different contexts," put the Gospel "into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind," Pope Francis said in his homily, according to the Catholic News Service.

La Croix International reported, that Pope Francis urged attendees to shed their attachments to wealth and power, care for the weak and poor, and focus on Jesus’ teachings and sharing his love.

Continuing his homily, the Pope said he hoped the Church would learn from the examples set by the new saints while doing away with “structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world," according to the Catholic News Service.

“Jesus is radical,” he said. "He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart … even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?"

In telling an anecdote about a rich young man, he reminded parishioners that Jesus demands not just “20 or 50 or 60 percent” but all of their love, adding that “passionate love” must be sought in place of “fleeting pleasures, ”.

Also canonised during the ceremony were: Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.

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