On Tuesday Pope Benedict traveled to the town of Oies near Bressanone, where he is spending his vacations, to visit the birthplace of St. Joseph Freinademetz, a missionary to China and the most popular saint in the region.
A Divine Word missionary, St. Joseph Freinademetz spent thirty years in China (1852-1908). According to the director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, “the fact that the Pope desires to honor this great missionary figure, a missionary to China—which is a subject very much present nowadays in the Pope’s prayers—is something that should unite Catholics.”
The fourth of thirteen children from a German-speaking family in northern Italy, St. Joseph Freinademetz went to China as a missionary, where he learned the language and customs, adopting local cultural mannerisms that helped him to preach the Gospel. He profoundly identified with the Chinese and said, “I want to continue being Chinese even in heaven.”
Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2003.