5 Canonizations Planned for Sunday

Including a 17th-Century Killer

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II will preside over five canonizations this Sunday, including that of a killer who converted and lived a life of penance.

The five are:

Rebecca Pierrette Ar-Rayes (1932-1914)

She was a virgin and nun of the Lebanese Order of St. Antony of the Maronites. She is known as the «flower of Himlaya,» the little Lebanese mountain village where she was born and baptized with the name Boutrossieh — Pierrette or Petronila in French — on June 29, 1832.

Her mother´s death and father´s second marriage marked her childhood. At 14, despite the fact her father wanted her to marry, she declared she was attracted to the religious life. After working for a Lebanese family in Damascus, she entered the institute founded by Father Joseph Gemayel for the education of girls.

The institute was unable to survive the conflicts of the 1860s. So, in 1871, Boutrossieh entered the Order of St. Antony of the Maronites, which was inspired by ancient Egyptian monasticism, where she took the name Rafqa — that is, Rebecca in French.

In 1885, Sister Rebecca offered her health to the Lord; afterward, she lost her eyesight. For 30 years she suffered excruciating pain in her face. Then, in 1907, she suffered a painful paralysis. Her inert body was covered with sores. She offered her suffering in union with Jesus. The anniversary of her death, March 23, is her feast day.

Luigi Scrosoppi (1804-1884)

This Italian priest was a religious of the St. Philip Neri Oratory, and founder of the Sisters of Providence of St. Cajetan of Thiene. «The poor and the sick are our owners and they represent the very person of Jesus Christ,» said this priest, a native of Udine in northern Italy.

He spent his large legacy and all his energy on works of charity: the House of the Abandoned, for the education of poor girls; Providence House, for his unemployed former pupils; and his work for the deaf and dumb.

In order to attend to all these institutions, he founded the Sisters of Providence, whom he placed under the protection of St. Cajetan. His feast day is April 3. He will be proclaimed a saint after a scientific commission recognized the inexplicable cure of a Zambian AIDS victim, Peter Changu Shitima.

Agostino Roscelli (1818-1902)

Born in Bargone de Casarza, in Liguria, he died in Genoa. He was ordained a priest in 1846 and, as parish priest, he was especially concerned with youth, and girls, who had less access to education. He founded a school so that they could receive intellectual and professional training. He instituted a religious community of women teachers to run the school. His feast day is May 7.

Bernardo da Corleone (1605-1667)

Filippo Latini, a shoemaker in Sicily, was an expert in handling a knife. One day, he mortally wounded an adversary and fled, to escape from the police. He sought refuge in the church of the Palermo Capuchins. In 1632, after being converted, he entered that monastery as a friar, and lived a life of penance. He was beatified in 1768. His feast day is Jan. 12.

Teresa Eustochio Verzeri (1801-1852)

She was a virgin and founder of the Institute of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Member of the noble family of Bergamo, in Lombardy, she was formed in the religious life in the Benedictine community of her native city. She dedicated herself to the education of young girls. She founded a religious congregation for them, the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, concerned with education. She died in Brescia. Her feast day is March 3.

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