Pope skips rules to declare 16th century Jesuit a saint

Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:05pm EST
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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, who is a Jesuit, on Tuesday skipped the Vatican's customary procedures and bestowed sainthood by decree on Father Pierre Favre, a 16th century priest who was one of the first Jesuits.

Favre, who is sometimes known in the English-speaking world as Peter Faber, was a close companion of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Spaniard who founded the religious order.

Francis, the first Jesuit pope in history, applied a little-used procedure called "equivalent canonization".

This meant Favre was proclaimed a saint by decree without a formal ceremony and without the need for a miracle to have been performed through his intercession.

Francis, who has often spoken of his devotion to Favre and his admiration for the early Jesuit's spirituality, signed a decree that added Favre's name to the universal calendar of Roman Catholic saints.

Favre, who was born in France in 1506 and died in Rome in 1546, was beatified, or declared a blessed of the Church, in 1872.

He spent much of his adult life preaching to Protestants in Germany during the Reformation.

The "equivalent canonization" procedure has been used by popes to bestow sainthood on a person who died long ago and who the Church has revered as holy for centuries.

Pope Benedict used it three times, Pope John Paul used it once and Francis himself used the procedure in October to canonize an Italian nun, Angela of Foligno, who died in 1309.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Pravin Char)

Pope Francis greets children assisted by volunteers of Santa Marta institute during an audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito