Tapestries of the seven new Saints draped on the front of Saint Peter's Basilica
In a joyful, colourful and memorable ceremony Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven new saints during a special Mass attended by more than 80,000 pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, on World Mission Sunday, 21 October.
After the Holy Father had said the Formula of Canonization, loud applause rang out throughout St Peter’s Square as the choir began the great Te Deum – “God we praise you; Lord we proclaim you!
The magnificent tapestry of each of the seven new saints, who come from countries throughout the world, looked down on the Holy Father, Cardinals, Archbishops, Priests, and pilgrims, from their place of honour high up on the front of St Peter’s Basilica.
Speaking in English during his homily the Holy Father said: “Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave her a sense of the living God.
“She was baptised at 24 years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of 24. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.”
Pope Benedict continued in French: “Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other!
“May her example help us to live where we are; loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first Native American saint we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America.”
Pope Benedict XVI spoke briefly about each of the new saints: Marianne Cope, 1838-1918, who worked with St Damien of Molokai with those suffering from leprosy in the island of Molokai, Hawaii. A sister of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York, she ran a hospital for leprosy sufferers in Honolulu.
Jacques Berthieu, a French missionary to Madagascar, 1838-1896, Pedro Calungsod, a martyr from the Philippines, 1655-1672. Giovanni Battista Piamarta, a priest who set up an educational institute for the poor in Brescia, northern Italy, 1841-1913. Maria Carmen Sallés y Barangueras, the Spanish founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, 1848-1911. Anna Schäffer, a German laywoman, 1882-1925.
Earlier at the start of his homily the Holy Father said: “The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. These words were the blueprint for living of the seven blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrols this morning in the glorious ranks of saints.
“With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren. They are sons and daughters of the Church who chose the path of service following the Lord.”