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Pope canonizes couple, urges 'peace in Holy Land'

Pope Francis has conducted the first canonization of a married couple with children, the French Louis and Zelie Martin. He has also called for those caught up in Israeli-Palestinian violence to "say no to hatred."

The parents of the French Saint Therese of Lisieux were themselves raised to sainthood on Sunday, in a move

Pope Francis

hoped would underline the importance of the family.

Louis and Zelie Martin, who lived in France in the 19th century, had nine children, four of whom died at a young age, while the other five all became nuns. The couple helped the sick and dying, gave alms to beggars, ensured hospital care for the very ill and took in a child whose family could not look after him.

"The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guerin practiced Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters," the 78-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church said during Mass on Sunday.

Present at the ceremony were an Italian boy and a Spanish girl who were believed to have recovered from deadly diseases after their parents had prayed to the Martins. On March 18, Pope Francis said the couple had performed a miracle by curing the two children.

'Holy Land' violence

Also on Sunday, the Argentine pontiff addressed the rising tensions in the Middle East: "I follow with great concern the situation of tension and violence that plagues the Holy Land," he said during Sunday's Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican.

"There is great need now for the courage and fortitude to say no to hatred and revenge and make gestures of peace", he added.

das/se (AFP, Reuters)

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