Pope declares sainthood of two Indians, four Italians

Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:11am EST
 
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By Isla Binnie

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis conferred sainthood on two Indians and four Italians on Sunday, praising their "creative" commitment to helping the poor.

Francis added to the roster of Catholic saints a Keralan mystic nun, an Indian priest and social reformer, the former Bishop of Vicenza, and three members of the Franciscan order.

"They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbor," Pope Francis told crowds in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

"Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God," said Francis, who chose his own papal name after the saint of Assisi, who symbolizes austerity and love for the poor.

Portraits of the newly sanctified hung from St. Peter's Basilica, in front of which 5,000 Keralan Catholics and two local government ministers joined the crowd, according to the Union of Catholic Asian News.

Carmelite nun Sister Eufrasia was sanctified with Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who founded the sisterhood she belonged to.

Eufrasia, canonized six years after India's first female saint, was born to an aristocratic family in 1877 and took a vow of chastity aged nine.

Chavara founded two Carmelite congregations in India in the 19th century, and decreed that every church should have its own school.   Continued...