.- During yesterday's Mass and canonization ceremony, Pope Benedict reflected on the relevance and story of each of the five new saints.
At the beginning of his homily, the Holy Father commented on today's Gospel which recounts how the two disciples of Emmaus, returning to Jerusalem, told the eleven disciples that they had recognized Jesus "in the breaking of the bread."
"Each community relives this same experience in the celebration of the Eucharist, especially on Sundays," said the Pope. "In celebrating the Eucharist we communicate with Christ, victim of atonement, and from Him we draw forgiveness and life. What would our lives as Christians be without the Eucharist?"
Going on then to recall certain fundamental aspects of the lives of the five new saints, the Holy Father began by referring to the "concrete and courageous initiatives" of St. Arcangelo Tadini. These included establishing the Catholic Workers' Mutual Assistance Association, building a textile mill and a residence for female workers, and founding the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth in 1900, his aim being to evangelize the world of work, sharing in its fatigues and following the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
"How prophetic the charismatic intuition of Fr. Tadini was, and what relevance his example still has, even today in times of serious economic crisis!" cried the Pope.
Benedict XVI described St. Bernardo Tolomei, abbot and founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation who died of the plague in 1348 while assisting his fellow monks who had contracted the disease, as a "true martyr of charity. ... The example of this saint invites us to translate our own faith into a life dedicated to God in prayer and spent in serving others under the impulse of charity, a charity ready also to make the supreme sacrifice," he said.
St. Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, he went on, "was a great soldier and a great leader who never allowed his personal qualities to overshadow the supreme action of God. .... At the end of his life he retreated to a Carmelite convent that he himself had ordered to be built."
"This exemplary figure, his life characterized by faith and prayer in apparently unfavorable settings, shows that in any situation - even military life and warfare - it is possible to enact and fulfill the values and principles of Christian life, especially if one places oneself at the service of the common good and the glory of God."
Turning then to focus on St. Gertrude Comensoli, foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Benedict XVI explained that the aim of her institute was "to translate 'charity contemplated' in the Eucharistic Christ into 'effective charity' through dedication to the needy.
"In a confused and often wounded society such as our own; to young people, such as those of our time, in search of values and of a meaning to give to their lives, St. Gertrude indicates a firm point of reference in God, Who in the Eucharist made Himself our traveling companion," he added.
Turning his attention then to St. Caterina Volpicelli, foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart, the Pope noted how she "strove 'to be of Christ in order to bring to Christ' the people she came across in late nineteenth-century Naples, at a time of spiritual and social crisis."
This saint, the Holy Father concluded, "shows her own spiritual daughters, and all of us, the demanding path to a conversion that changes the heart at its roots and translates into activities coherent with the Gospel. Thus it is possible to lay the foundations for a society open to justice and solidarity, overcoming that economic and cultural imbalance which still exists in a large part of our planet."