In addition to founding the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the saint also experienced visions of Holy Souls in Purgatory, and urged penance and prayers on their behalf.
In his homily for their canonization Mass, the Pope pointed to the images of death and resurrection in both the day’s first reading from the First Book of Kings and the Gospel of Luke.
The day’s first reading recounted how the prophet Elijah journeys to the house a widow and her only son, who becomes ill and dies during Elijah’s stay. Elijah’s words to the widow “give me your son” after his death are significant, Francis said, because they tell us something about our own death when and however it comes.
Rather than saying “hold on to it; sort it out yourself,” the prophet says “give it to me” before fighting with God about the “absurdity of that death” and returning the widow’s son to her alive.
Similarly, in the day’s Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus has compassion on a widow from Nain that he saw accompanying the procession of her adolescent son to his burial.
“God’s tenderness is fully revealed in Jesus,” who draws close to the widow, stops the procession and likely caresses the grieving mother’s face, Francis said.
“Jesus asks to takes our death upon himself, to free us from it and to restore our life,” he said, noting how immediately after telling the widow not to weep, her son woke up “as if from a deep sleep” and began to speak.
The Pope stressed that Jesus “is no wizard,” but rather “it is God’s tenderness incarnate; the Father’s immense compassion” which is at work in Jesus.
Pope Francis said the same thing can be said of St. Paul, who went from being a fierce persecutor of Christians to a great witness of the Gospel.
“The experience of the Apostle Paul was also a kind of resurrection,” he said, noting how God the Father not only revealed his son to Paul, but in Paul, “impressing as it were in his own person, flesh and spirit, the death and resurrection of Christ.”
Because of this, the apostle was not just a messenger, but a witness, Francis said, explaining that this is the case with each and every sinner.
“Jesus constantly makes the victory of life-giving grace shine forth…He takes our sins upon himself, takes them away and gives us back alive to the Mother Church,” he said.
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Pope Francis closed his homily noting that the saints canonized “are exemplary witnesses to this mystery of resurrection,” and prayed that all would join the saints in singing the day’s responsorial psalm, “I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.”
After concluding Mass, Francis greeted the official delegations who traveled to Rome for the canonizations, including those from both Poland and Sweden. The Polish delegation was led by the country’s president, Andrezej Duda.
He then greeted pilgrims present from various other countries around the world before leading them in the Angelus.