Pope Francis has made two founders of religious orders canonized saints.
This morning, the Holy Father canonized Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, a Swedish Lutheran convert who established the Bridgettine order in her nation, and Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski of Poland, who founded the Marians of the Immaculate Conception during a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, followed by his Sunday Angelus address.
In his homily, The Holy Father urged the some 40,000 faithful gathered to imitate the newly canonized saints as models of holiness, and as examples of remaining united to Christ, even at moments of suffering.
Francis recalled today’s readings in which God responded to mothers’ desperate pleas for their sons to be restored to life and spoke on the power of mothers’ pleas in the eyes of God.
“In the Passion of Christ,” the Pontiff noted, “we find God’s response to the desperate and at times indignant cry that the experience of pain and death evokes in us. He tells us that we cannot flee from the Cross, but must remain at its foot, as Our Lady did.”
When Mary suffered there with her Son, the Jesuit Pope explained, “she received the grace of hoping against all hope. (cf. Rom 4:18)”
“This,” he continued, “was the experience of Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, and Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad. They remained deeply united to the passion of Jesus,” he said, “and in them the power of His Resurrection was revealed.”
Extends to Sinners
With each and every sinner, the Pope also explained, God can raise them up from their past mistakes.
“Jesus constantly makes the victory of life-giving grace shine forth. He says to Mother Church: “Give me your children”, which means all of us. He takes our sins upon himself, takes them away and gives us back alive to the Mother Church.”
In the Holy Year of Mercy, Francis suggested, this forgiving of our sins happens in a special way.
During the Angelus address, Pope Francis recognized that the official delegations of Poland and Sweden were present and prayed for these nations to be blessed. He concluded, praying that Mary helps faithful on their path toward holiness and toward constructing justice and peace.
Turning to upcoming canonizations, on Sept. 4, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, in the Vatican. On Oct. 16, the Pope will canonize Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy who was killed for refusing to renounce his faith in the 1920s during the Cristero War, and Argentine Blessed Jose Gabriel del Rosario, referred to as the ‘gaucho priest.’
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Pope’s Homily: https://zenit.org/articles/pope-francis-homily-at-canonizations-of-two-blesseds/
Pope’s Angelus Address: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-angelus-address-at-canonizations-of-two-blesseds/
Biographical Information (pages 10, 16 of Vatican Liturgy booklet): http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2016/20160605-libretto-canonizzazione.pdf
Below are the two new saints’ biographies, courtesy of the Liturgy Booklet for the Canonization Mass:
Blessed Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad (1870-1957): Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad was born in Sweden on 4 June 1870, the fifth of thirteen children. Baptized lutheran, she emigrated to the United States of America when she was eighteen. For many years (from 1888 to 1904) she worked diligently as a nurse at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York where, faced with the suffering and sickness of the patients, she honed her human and spiritual sensitivities, conforming them ever more closely to those of her fellow Swede, Saint Bridget. From her adolescence, Mary’s desire was for the unity of Christ’s flock. Guided by a learned Jesuit, she avidly studied Catholic doctrine and, by conscious decision, accepted the Catholic Faith, being conditionally baptized on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1902. In 1904 she moved to Rome and, by special permission of Pope Saint Pius X, she took the religious habit of Saint Bridget in the residence where the saint had lived, which was then occupied by Carmelites. Led by the Holy Spirit, she refounded the order of Saint Bridget (1911), responding to the circumstances and the signs of the times. Her apostolate was inspired by the great ideal “Ut omnes unum sint” (that all may be one) and this motivated her to give her life to God in order to unite Sweden to Rome. With great courage and foresight, in 1923 she brought the Bridgettine Sisters back to Sweden, to Djursholm, and then Vadstena in 1935.
Her entire life was characterized by continuous works of charity. During World War II, she provided refuge to many persecuted Jews and turned Bridgettine convents into places where her spiritual daughters could distribute food and clothing to those who were in need. on 24 April 1957, after a long life marked by suffering and sickness, she died in the Casa Santa Brigida in Rome, having a reputation for holiness among her Bridgettine sisters, the clergy and the poor, who venerated her as mother of the poor and a spiritual master. She was beatifed by Saint John Paul II on April 9th of the Jubilee year 2000.
Blessed Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701): Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary (in the world, Jan Papczyński) was born on 18 May 1631 in Podegrodzie (Poland) to poor but fervently Christian parents. He was baptized the same day. After studying at the Podegrodzie elementary school, he went to the Jesuit college and the college of the Piarist Fathers. Having become familiar with the Piarists, at 23 years of age he entered that Institute. In 1656 he professed simple vows, and was ordained priest on 12 March 1661. He became famous throughout Warsaw both as a professor of rhetoric and as a master of the spiritual life: he authored several books, and was a noted preacher and confessor. Among his penitents was the Apostolic nuncio in Poland at the time, Antonio Pignatelli, the future Pope Innocent XII.
In 1670, having obtained the required dispensations, he left the Piarists and founded the Institute of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. The three goals of this Institute were (1) to promote devotion to the Immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, finding in Mary the heart of the Christian life, namely, God’s gratuitous gift of infinite love for humanity; (2) to offer prayers and sacrifices for the dead, especially those who were not prepared to die; (3) to minister to the poor and the marginalized. Stanislaus dedicated himself with apostolic zeal to these charitable purposes until the end of his life. He was faithful to his ascetical observances and to governing the Institute which, in 1699, received Pontifical Approbation.
Stanislaus died on 17 September 1701, in the monastery of Góra kalwaria. His last words were: “Into your hands lord, I commend my spirit”. Having expressed his ardent desire to unite himself to Christ, he blessed his religious brethren and exhorted them to fidelity. He left behind many spiritual writings. Among these are the Norma Vitæ(The rule of life), which treated religious life and the life of his Institute, and the Templum Dei Mysticum (The Mystical Temple of God) in which he proposed a spirituality for the laity. Pope Benedict XVI enrolled him among the blessed in 2007.
Pope Francis has made two founders of religious orders canonized saints.