Pope Canonizes 6 and Calls for Rediscovery of Family and Religious Life

Gianna Beretta Molla Among the Newly Listed Saints

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II proposed the rediscovery of the beauty of the family and of religious life, when canonizing six modern figures of holiness in St. Peter’s Square.

Among the new saints is Italian Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962), a doctor, who at 39 decided to accept the risk of death rather than undergo treatment that would have aborted her unborn child.

Another saint proclaimed today is Josep Manyanet y Vives (1833-1901), Catalan priest known as the «prophet of the family,» founder of two religious congregations, and a promoter of the Holy Family church in Barcelona, Spain.

Two other new saints were friends and founders of religious congregations. One was Father Luigi Orione (1872-1940), an Italian priest who founded the Little Work of Divine Providence to assist the poorest, especially the disabled.

The other was Father Annibale Maria Di Francia (1851-1927), one of the most important spiritual figures of Italy at the end of the 19th century and early 20th. He founded the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus, and the Daughters of Divine Zeal.

Also canonized were Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini (1808-1858), a priest of the Lebanese Maronite Order, and Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865), an Italian widow and mother of a family. The latter founded of two religious congregations for women, dedicated to helping families.

On a sunny spring morning, a key moment of the Mass took place when the six large portraits of the newly canonized saints were unveiled on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.

«With the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after having reflected at length, invoked divine assistance many times and heard the opinion of numerous brothers in the episcopate, we declare and define these blessed saints,» said John Paul II, reciting the formula for canonization before the 80,000 pilgrims on hand. Prolonged applause from the crowd followed.

The Pope, who showed no signs of fatigue during the two-hour-plus Mass, intoned some hymns and reviewed the lives of the six saints during the homily, which he read in Italian, Spanish, French and Catalan. He described them as «witnesses» of the peace of Christ.

Recalling St. Gianna, he said: «May our age be able to rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!» Near the Pope were the husband and three children of the newly canonized saint.

«Be enamored of Jesus Christ,» he counseled the young, reminding them that this is the secret of the religious and priestly vocations. Five of the saints were priests or religious.

John Paul II has now canonized 483 saints. Today’s canonization took place amid tight but discreet security measures. Everyone entering St. Peter’s Square had to pass through metal detectors.

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