Twenty-two martyrs of the Spanish Civil War and a priest beheaded during the French Revolution will be declared “blessed” by the Church in coming months.
On April 2, the Pope met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to review canonization causes up for advancement.
The Vatican announced April 2 that Pope Benedict XVI had approved 29 beatification decrees and recognized the "heroic virtue" of six candidates for sainthood.
The causes of Father Francisco Esteban Lacal of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and 21 of his companions – among them Oblate students, religious and priests – were approved for martyrdom. They were killed in 1936 along with a layman, Candido Castan San Jose, after a series of persecutions against them for their work in religious communities and parishes.
It is estimated that nearly 7,000 clergy and religious, including 12 bishops, were killed for their faith during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War.
The Vatican also determined that Father Peter Adrian Toulorge of the Premonstratensian Regular Canons died as a martyr during the French Revolution. He was guillotined in Coutances, France in 1793 for being a Catholic priest.
His cause was opened in 1922, along with those of 56 other priests from France's Normandy region.
In addition to the newly declared martyrs, the Vatican approved miracles attributed to the intercession of two priests and three religious sisters from Italy and Spain, thus paving the way for their beatifications.
Among them is Father Clemente Vismara, an Italian priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions who died in 1988 at 91 years old. The miracle involved a 10-year old boy in Myanmar, where Fr. Vismara worked.
The boy hit his head on a rock after he fell from a tree branch 15-feet above the ground. He went into a coma, but after three days of prayer for Fr. Vismara's intercession, the boy woke up and suffered no permanent damage.
Although no canonization causes were approved to fully recognize sainthood, six Catholic faithful were recognized for having shown "heroic virtue" in their lives. Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry, the first bishop of Changanacherry, India, Canadian religious Br. Theophanius-Leo Chatillon of the Brothers of Christian Schools and 14-year old Bernhard Lehner, a courageously faithful German teenager who died from an illness in 1944 were among them.