Pope Benedict XVI canonized three new saints at an Oct. 23 ceremony in St. Peter’s Square. He described the heavenly triumvirate as “a model for all believers.”
“Let us be attracted by their examples, let us be guided by their teachings, so that our whole existence becomes a witness of authentic love for God and neighbor,” the Pope Benedict said to tens of thousands of enthusiastic pilgrims Oct. 23.
The three new saints are Sister Bonifacia Rodriguez y Castro, Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti and Father Luigi Guanella.
Sr. Bonifacia was born in the Spanish city of Salamanca in 1837. She dedicated her life to the welfare of poor female workers. In 1874 she co-founded the Servants of St. Joseph, who offered work to poor unemployed women.
Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti was born near Parma in Italy in 1865. As a young man he dreamed of becoming a foreign missionary but his poor health caused various religious orders to turn him away. His solution was to found his own missionary order, the Xaverian Missionaries, in 1895. He also served as bishop of Ravenna and later of Parma.
Fr. Luigi Guanella was born in the Italian province of Como in 1842. He dedicated his life to the care of the poor and needy. He founded the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in 1881 and Servants of Charity in 1908.
Drawing upon today’s Gospel in which Christ tells a Pharisee the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” the Pope said that “the visible sign that the Christian can show the world to witness to the love of God is the love of their brethren.”
“How providential is then the fact that today the Church should indicate to all members three new saints who allowed themselves to be transformed by divine love, which marked their entire existence,” said the Pope, explaining that “in different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves so as to become a model for all believers.”
Present among the pilgrims today was 30-year-old William Glisson from Springfield, Pa. His miraculous recovery in 2002 from serious head injuries sustained while rollerblading was attributed to the heavenly intercession of Fr. Guanella. It was that miracle which led to today’s canonization.
“It’s truly amazing and it’s extremely humbling that this could be happening,” Glisson told CNA. He is still grateful to all those who prayed to Fr. Guanella on his behalf.
“Their prayers were answered and I was healed because of that and that he became a saint is just amazing. And the fact that I'm even here, this place is amazing. It’s just hard to even describe, to put into words.”
A minor disruption of today’s ceremony happened when a man, thought to be Romanian, climbed onto the colonnade that surrounds St. Peter’s Square and proceeded to burn a Bible.
“Pope, where is Christ?” he shouted in English before throwing the charred Bible to the ground below. The man was talked out of further actions by, among others, the Pope’s chief bodyguard Domenico Giani.
The Pope himself seemed totally unfazed by the incident and simply carried on with the celebration of Mass.