Pope John Paul canonised Guatemala's first saint: Brother Pedro de San Jose de Betancur, in a ceremony at the race course in Guatemala City yesterday. More than half a million people attended the Mass which ended with jubilant cheering, singing and flag waving. Brother Pedro, a 17th century Spanish missionary, set up his own order of priests and nuns to help the poor. The Pope said he hoped that the canonisation would be "a true moment of grace and renewal for Guatemala." He added: " The example of Brother Pedro's life and the eloquence of his message are a valuable contribution to building society, which is now opening to the challenges of the third millennium. I fervently hope that the noble Guatemalan people, who thirst for God and for spiritual values, who are anxious for peace, solidarity and justice, may live and enjoy the dignity which is theirs. The Pope's visit to Guatemala is seen as having huge significance for the Catholic Church, which is calling for the authorities to investigate crimes against humanity committed during the the country's brutal 36 year civil war. The last papal visit to Guatemala in 1996 came shortly before the conflict ended. Many believe the Pope played a key role in bringing peace.
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