1 Million Attend Canonization of 5 Saints in Madrid

Martyr From Spanish Civil War Among Those Honored

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MADRID, Spain, MAY 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed to Spain’s Catholics to be faithful to their rich spiritual legacy, as he canonized five of their compatriots.

More than 1 million people gathered in Columbus Square today to participate in the key ceremony of the Pope’s fifth visit to Spain.

“The Successor of Peter, pilgrim in Spanish lands, repeats to you: Spain, continuing a legacy of courageous evangelization, be a witness today of the resurrected Jesus Christ!” the Holy Father said during the homily.

Two of the newly canonized saints are priests Pedro Poveda (1874-1936), founder of the Teresian Association who was martyred during the Spanish Civil War; and José María Rubio (1864-1929), Jesuit religious, apostle of the poorest neighborhoods of Madrid.

The other three were women religious: Genoveva Torres (1870-1956), foundress of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Holy Angels (known as the Angelicas); Ángela de la Cruz (1846-1932), foundress of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross; and María Maravillas de Jesús (1891-1974), a Discalced Carmelite.

“In giving thanks to the Lord for the many gifts he has lavished on Spain, I invite you to pray with me that new saints will continue to flower in this land,” the Pope said.

The Holy Father mentioned two conditions for new saints to appear in Spain: the need to maintain faithfulness to the Gospel and to defend family unity.

“Do not break with your Christian roots!” he said. “Only in this way will you be able to give to the world and to Europe the cultural wealth of your history.”

During the homily, the Pope highlighted the heroic virtues of the five saints.

He said that St. Pedro Poveda “ended his life with the crown of martyrdom” during “the religious persecution” that Spain suffered from 1936 to 1939, during which almost 12,000 priests and women religious died for their faith.

John Paul II highlighted St. José María Rubio’s motto: “To do what God wills and to will what God does.”

St. Genoveva Torres “was an instrument of the tenderness of God toward people who are alone and in need of love, consolation, and care of body and soul,” the Pope said. “The characteristic note that drove her spirituality was reparation through eucharistic adoration.”

“A similar love and sensibility toward the poor led St. Ángela de la Cruz to found her Company of the Cross, with a charitable and social dimension in favor of the neediest,” he added.

“St. Maravillas de Jesús,” he said, “lived inspired by a heroic faith, made concrete in the response of an austere vocation, placing God at the center of her life.”

Among those attending the canonization was Manuel Vilar, an Argentine boy who was pronounced clinically dead when he drowned in a pool. He miraculously returned to life through the intercession of Mother Maravillas.

Among those concelebrating with the Pope was a Jesuit religious cured of terminal cancer through the intercession of Father Rubio.

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