6 New Blessed Include 1st Women from Nicaragua and Argentina

John Paul II Has Now Beatified a Total of 1,288

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II beatified six people today, including the first women of Nicaragua and Argentina so honored.

When the Pope pronounced the formula for beatification, thousand of faithful in St. Peter´s Square began to clap and to wave flags of Argentina, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Spain and Italy, countries where the new blessed founded religious congregations.

During the homily, delivered in Spanish and Italian, the Holy Father highlighted the most important features of the lives of the new blessed, three of whom were disciples of St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians.

The Pope spoke about María Romero Meneses (1902-1977), a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, the first Central American raised to the glory of the altar (she also lived in El Salvador and Costa Rica). He called the Nicaraguan an “exemplary religious, apostle and mother of the poor who, not excluding anyone, were her favorites.”

The first Argentine woman beatified is Mother María del Tránsito de Jesús Sacramentado Villegas (1821-1885), founder of the Franciscan Tertiary Missionary Sisters. The Pope noted her “life of poverty, humility, patience and charity,” and said she truly lived the “Franciscan ideal,” founding a new religious family, after leaving two convents of contemplative life because of ill health.

Artemides Zatti (1880-1951), Salesian coadjutor, who arrived in Argentina with his immigrant family, was outstanding for his “intense, competent and loving service to the sick,” John Paul II said. According to the Pope, Zatti´s close to 50 years of total dedication to the poor of the Argentine city of Viedma are a call to discover “the presence of the Lord” and “to welcome him in all needy brothers.”

Italian Luigi Variara (1875-1923) was the “first Salesian ordained a priest in Colombia,” John Paul II said. Since neither women with leprosy nor the daughters of lepers were accepted in religious life, he decided to found a congregation for them, the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary — a “thriving institute present today in several countries,” the Holy Father said.

The other two blessed are Italians Ludovico Pavoni (1784-1849), founder of the Brothers of Mary Immaculate, who dedicated his life to “the assistance of poor and abandoned youth, especially deaf-mutes,” the Holy Father said; and Gaetano Errico (1791-1860), “martyr of the confessional” who, “in face of the spiritual rigor of the Jansenists,” announced “the greatness of God´s mercy.”

The Pope offered the new blessed as models, because “they knew how to recognize the living presence of the Lord in the Church and, overcoming difficulties and fears, became his enthusiastic and courageous witnesses before the world.”

The beatification ceremony was attended by Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños and Costa Rican President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, who plan to meet during their stay in Rome. Their countries have a border problem in the area of the San Juan River. The dispute has been taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Including today´s six beatifications, John Paul II has proclaimed a total of 1,288 blessed. He has also proclaimed 456 saints.

The Pope has already raised to the glory of the altar more than half of the blessed and saints proclaimed throughout the history of the Church.

John Paul II, who is recovering from an arthritic right knee, looked much better today than he did during Holy Week, although at times he seemed tired.

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