.- Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Pontifical Council for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decrees on a variety of miracles, martyrs and declarations of heroic virtue on Thursday. Included among the European majority is an Italian priest destined for canonization.
Just a day after the Church's celebration of the Feast of the First Martyrs of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation, met to review saints' causes that were up for approval.
Topping the list of candidates is the man who will become the Church's newest saint, Blessed Luigi Guanella, Italian priest-founder of the Servants of Charity congregation of religious brothers and of the Institute of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. Living from 1842 to 1915, he first started the sisters' orphanage to assist a children's home he had founded.
The community now has 100 homes and 1,200 religious sisters.
In addition to establishing the Servants of Charity, which now has 500 members dedicated to assisting those in need, two years before his own death he founded the Pious Union of Saint Joseph whose members pray for the dying. The first of what has now become millions of members of the prayer group was Pope Pius X.
The cause for Blessed Guanella's canonization was begun in Rome on March 15, 1939 and Pope Paul VI beatified him on Oct. 25, 1964.
Of the 35 beatifications that were authorized on Thursday, four result from miracles attributed to Italians.
A Hungarian bishop is included among the ranks of the 31 martyrs approved for beatification. Servant of God Janos Scheffler, Bishop of Satu Mare, was killed in Bucharest, Romania in 1952.
In addition to Bishop Scheffler, 16 members of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary and 10 members of the Carmelite Order, killed during the Spanish Civil War, have also been approved as martyrs for the faith.
The remaining martyrs consist of three diocesan priests killed in Hamburg, Germany during World War II and a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul martyred in the 18th century in Dax, France.
"Heroic virtue" was declared to have been present in the lives of six Catholics, including Servant of God Maria, who was born Casimira Kaupas in Lithuania in 1880 and died in Chicago in 1940, having founded the Sisters of St. Casimir.