VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2003 (Zenit.org).- In a two-hour-plus Mass, John Paul II canonized three missionaries of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Addressing the 30,000 pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said the new saints remind us that “every Christian is sent on a mission, but to be genuine witnesses of Christ it is necessary to seek holiness constantly.”
One of the new saints, Italian Daniel Comboni (1831-1881), was the first bishop of central Africa. Founder of the Comboni men and women missionaries, he is considered one of the greatest evangelizers in Africa’s history. His motto was “To Save Africa Through Africa.”
Another new saint, German Father Arnold Janssen (1837-1909), founded the Society of the Divine Word, the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, and the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters.
The third saint, Josef Freinademetz (1852-1908), was one of Father Janssen’s first followers as a priest of the Society of the Divine Word. As a missionary in China he was considered a “Chinese among the Chinese.”
The example of these three missionaries shows “that the proclamation of the Gospel constitutes the first service that the Church can offer to each man and to the whole of humanity,” the Pope said in the homily, parts of which he read in Italian.
German-language texts regarding the two Divine Word missionaries were read by a priest to spare the Pope greater effort, as in recent weeks he has had difficulty articulating clearly.
The Pope gave Communion personally to about 30 people during the Mass. He pronounced the canonization formula in a clear though shaky voice. He appeared to regain his energy at the end of the Mass when greeting the pilgrims.
At the start and close of the Mass the pilgrims encouraged the Pope with applause.
The celebration was characterized by the songs and dances of Sudanese Christians; St. Daniel Comboni’s residence was in Khartoum. They came to Rome with Khartoum Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako, whom the Pope will make a cardinal Oct. 21.
Before reciting the Angelus, John Paul II invited the pilgrims to invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially this month, when the Year of the Rosary closes. He reminded them that he plans to go on pilgrimage Tuesday to the Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii.