Pope names two Italians, Spanish nun as new saints

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2011 8:24 AM
Pope names two Italians, Spanish nun as new saints

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict proclaimed two Italian priests and a Spanish nun as saints on Sunday, urging the faithful to follow their examples of a holy life devoted to charity.

In a solemn ceremony in St. Peter's Square, the pope canonized Italians Guido Maria Conforti and Father Luigi Guanella and Spaniard Bonifacia Rodriguez De Castro, whose efforts to protect women workers upset local clergy at the time.

The Vatican later said gendarmerie arrested a Romanian who had climbed on a ledge atop a balustrade in the square and burned a Bible as the ceremony drew to an end.

He said he had a message for the world on the fight against terrorism, it said, describing him as mentally unstable.

A young priest whose poor health prevented him from becoming a missionary, Conforti founded the St. Francis Xavier Foreign Missions Society in 1895. He also served as Archbishop of Ravenna and governed the diocese of Parma for 24 years.

Born into a pious family in northern Italy, Guanella's life was focused on helping the needy. Early on, he opened a school that he was forced to shut in the face of hostility from local authorities.

He later founded the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity, both devoted to helping the poor.

Born in the Spanish city of Salamanca, De Castro's lifetime dedicated to protecting poor women workers began when she set up a cord making shop and gathered young women on Sundays.

Alongside a Jesuit Catalan in Salamanca, she set up the Siervas de San Jose that offered work to poor unemployed women -- a notion that upset the local clergy of the day. Humiliated and scorned by those who opposed her, De Castro left to start a foundation protecting youth and unemployed domestic helpers in the city of Zamora, where she died in 1905.

(Reporting by Deepa Babington; editing by Elizabeth Piper)