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Pope Benedict XVI Names 5 New Saints

Monday, 27 Apr 2009 10:12 AM

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI named five new saints Sunday, including Portugal's 14th century independence leader and a priest who ministered to factory workers at the dawn of the industrial era.

Speaking in a packed St. Peter's Square, Benedict praised each of the five as a model for the faithful, saying their lives and works were as relevant today as when they were alive.

Benedict singled out the Rev. Arcangelo Tadini, who lived at the turn of the last century and founded an order of nuns to tend to factory workers — something of a scandal at the time, since factories were considered immoral and dangerous places. Tadini also created an association to provide emergency loans to workers experiencing financial difficulties.

"How prophetic was Don Tadini's charismatic intuition, and how current his example is today, in this time of grave economic crisis!" Benedict marveled in his homily.

The only non-Italian canonized Sunday was Nuno Alvares Pereira, who helped secure Portugal's independence from the Spanish kingdom of Castile, leading Portuguese forces in the critical Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385.

After leaving the military, he entered religious life as a Carmelite and changed his name to Nuno de Santa Maria. He dedicated himself to the poor, never taking the privileges that would have been afforded to him as a former commander.

He is remembered as a national hero today in Portugal, with street signs named after him in many towns, but also as a humble man of great spirituality.

"The canonization of Nuno Alvares Pereira honors one of the personalities that most clearly mapped out our national history," Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva said in Lisbon.

Also canonized Sunday was Bernardo Tolomei, a nearly blind monk who founded the Benedictine Congregation of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto in the 1340s. He died in 1348 along with 82 of his monks after leaving the safety of his monastery to tend to plague victims in Siena.

Benedict praised his dedication, saying he died "as an authentic martyr of charity."

The others canonized were Gertrude Comensoli and Caterina Volpicelli, 19th century Italian nuns who founded religious orders.

Benedict has presided over a handful of canonization ceremonies in his four-year pontificate, and has left it to other Vatican officials to officiate at beatification ceremonies. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, beatified 1,338 people and canonized 480 during his quarter-century pontificate.

Beatification is the first step to possible sainthood. The Vatican must certify one miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession for beatification, and a second miracle that occurred after beatification for the candidate to be declared a saint.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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