By Cian Molloy - 14 October, 2019
St Peter’s Square in Rome was packed yesterday for the canonisation of five new saints of the Catholic Church.
There has been much attention given in Irish and British media to the official recognition of the sanctity of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
The last time a British person was canonised was in 1976, when Scotsman John Ogilvie was made a saint, but Newman is additionally notable for being ‘the first post-Reformation British saint’. A convert from the Church of England, Newman is famous in Ireland as the founder of the country’s only Catholic university, which was the precursor to University College Dublin, but he was also famed for his poetry, his hymns and his founding of Birmingham Oratory.
But Rome saw four other saints canonised yesterday: Sister Mariam Thresia, an Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic; Sister Giuseppina Vannini, the Italian founder of the Daughters of St Camillus; Marguerite Bays, a Swiss member of the lay Franciscan order, who developed stigmata; and Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, the first officially recognised Brazilian saint, who was a Franciscan sister known also as St Dulce of the Poor.
In his homily, the Pope reflected on yesterday’s Gospel, the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. He said of the lepers: ‘They did not let themselves be paralysed because they were shunned by society. They cried out to God, who excludes no one and who hears the cry of those who find themselves alone.’
In today’s society, many of us need to be healed, Pope Francis said: ‘Healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think.’
But he added: ‘The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask Him.’