Pope canonises ten new saints who offered their lives 'without expectation of worldly glory'

Ten new Catholic saints were canonised on Sunday, with Pope Francis presiding over a Eucharistic Celebration and a Rite of Canonisation of the Blesseds. In attendance were the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, Dutch Minister of the Exterior Wopke Hoekstra, Indian Minister of Minorities Gingee K. S. Mathan, and Algerian President of the High Islamic Committee Bouabdellah Ghoulamallah.

The new cohort of saints consisted of four enterprising nuns and three priests who each founded a Catholic order, congregation or society, along with a priest-come-academic-come-journalist and a layperson who were martyred for their faith, and a French soldier and explorer who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria.

In his homily delivered after the canonisation, the Pope focused on Jesus’ instruction to his disciples recorded in John 13:34: “Even as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The Pope went on to remind the 50,000 people in attendance at Saint Peter’s Basilica that we are only able to fulfil Jesus’ instruction because we are first loved by God (1 John 4:10).

“Let us never forget this: our abilities and our merits are not the central thing, but rather the unconditional, free and unmerited love of God,” he said. “This is our identity: we are God’s loved ones. This is our strength: we are loved by God.”

Francis said that “acknowledging this truth requires a conversion in the way we think of holiness,” before going on to preach a message that might surprise some of Eternity’s protestant readers, given the occasion.

“At times, by over-emphasising our efforts to do good works, we have created an ideal of holiness excessively based on ourselves, our personal heroics, our capacity for renunciation, our readiness for self-sacrifice to achieve a reward,” he said. “We have turned holiness into an unattainable goal. We have separated it from everyday life, instead of looking for it and embracing it in our daily routines, in the dust of the streets, in the trials of real life and, in the words of Teresa of Avila to her Sisters, ‘among the pots and pans.'”

Francis encouraged his congregation that “being disciples of Jesus and advancing on the path of holiness means first and foremost letting ourselves be transfigured by the power of God’s love.”

“Let us never forget the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works. For we at times give more importance to self, flesh and works. No, the primacy is that of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.”

He explained that the love we are able to give flows out of the love we receive from Jesus – and we should not imagine the Christian life to be more complicated than that.

“In practice, what does it mean to live this love? Before giving us this commandment, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet; then, after giving it, he gave himself up to the wood of the cross. To love means this: to serve and to give one’s life. To serve, that is, not to put our own interests first: to clear our systems of the poison of greed and competitiveness; to fight the cancer of indifference and the worm of self-referentiality; to share the charisms and gifts that God has given us. Specifically, we should ask ourselves, “What do I do for others?” That is what it means to love, to go about our daily lives in a spirit of service, with unassuming love and without seeking any recompense.”

This was how the ten new saints lived, the Pope said.

“To serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, any worldly glory: this is a secret and it is our calling. That was how our fellow travellers canonized today lived their holiness. By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation – as a priest, as a consecrated women, as a lay person – they devoted their lives to the Gospel. They discovered an incomparable joy and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history. For that is what a saint is: a luminous reflection of the Lord of history. May we strive to do the same.”

And for those wondering how to apply the papal leader’s wisdom without founding a Catholic order, he provided some practical advice:

“Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love,” Francis said.

“Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters, by fighting for justice for your comrades, so that they do not remain without work, so that they always receive a just wage. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Tell me, are you in a position of authority? … Then be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain”.

The ten new saints

Charles de Foucauld: A French soldier and explorer who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria. He was known as Brother Charles of Jesus and was killed in 1916 at the age of 58 during a raid by a Bedouin tribe. Brother Charles published the first Tuareg-French dictionary and translated Tuareg poems into French.

Titus Brandsma: A Dutch member of the Carmelite religious order who served as president of the Catholic university at Nijmegen. Brandsma spoke out against Nazi ideology before World War Two and the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 and against anti-Jewish laws during the occupation. He also urged Dutch Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda. In 1942 he was arrested and taken to Dachau, where he was subjected to biological experimentation and killed by lethal injection the same year at the age of 61.

Devasahayam Pillai: A layman from India, Pillai was tortured and martyred because he converted to Catholicism from Hinduism in the 18th century.

Marie Rivier: In 1796, during the Reign of Terror, Rivier founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation. The Frenchwoman was just 28 years of age.

Maria Francesca of Jesus: A 19th-century missionary founder, Maria Francesca crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times by boat to establish an order of Capuchin sisters in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.

Maria Domenica Mantovani: The first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, which she co-founded to serve the poor, orphaned and the sick in Italy in 1892.

Maria of Jesus Santocanale: The founder of the Capuchin Sisters of Immaculate Mary of Lourdes in Sicily in 1910.

César de Bus: A French Catholic priest who founded two religious congregations in the 16th century known for enthusiastic preaching and acts of charity.

Luigi Maria Palazzolo: An Italian priest, Palazzolo established the Sisters of the Poor, opened an orphanage and worked for the poor.

Giustino Maria Russolillo: A priest known for his devotion to educating and guiding young people. The founder of the religious congregations of the Vocationist Fathers, the Vocationist Sisters and of the Secular Institute of the Apostles of Universal Sanctification in Italy.