Pope Francis canonizes hundreds of new Catholic Saints at Vatican | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 12.05.2013
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Pope Francis canonizes hundreds of new Catholic Saints at Vatican

Pope Francis has canonized his first saints. Benedict XVI had approved the new holy figures during the same ceremony in February in which he announced he was resigning as pontiff.

Thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square to attend the service formally bestowing sainthood on the cobbler Antonio Primaldo and 812 other Italians killed in 1480 by Ottoman forces for refusing to convert to Islam. The Martyrs of Otranto, as the church calls them, were beheaded for their religious conviction.

The pope called the saints a source of inspiration for "so many Christians, who, right in these times and in so many parts of the world, still suffer violence" and prayed that current faithful would receive "the courage of loyalty to respond to evil with good."

Laura of Saint Catherine de Siena Montoya y Upeguila became Colombia's first saint for her work with indigenous people and for helping to create the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1914.

The pope praised the new saint for "instilling hope" in indigenous people in a manner that "respected their culture."

Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala earned her canonization by helping Catholics avoid persecution during a 1920s crackdown on the religion by the Mexican government.

The pope said Mother Lupita, as she is also known, could encourage people to not "get wrapped up in themselves, their own problems, their own ideas, their own interests, but to go out and meet those who need attention, comprehension, help."

Several Colombians and Mexicans attended the canonizations by Francis, the first Latin American pope.

mkg/rc (AFP, AP)