New Saints "Contemplatives in Action"

Pope Presents St. Rafqa as Model for Mideast

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II believes that the five saints he canonized Sunday have a message for today´s world: Their lives are a call to be "contemplatives in action."



"The believer´s concrete commitment is inspired and becomes effective by contemplating Christ´s face," the Pope said, an instruction he also gave at the close of the Jubilee Year.

Following Sunday´s "celebration of sanctity," as John Paul II described the event, this morning he met with 12,000 pilgrims who came to Rome for the canonizations.

The newly canonized saints are Rebecca Pierrette Ar-Rayes (1832-1914), first Lebanese woman saint; Luigi Scrosoppi (1804-1884), priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri and founder of the Congregation of Sisters of Providence of St. Cajetan of Thiene; Agostino Roscelli (1818-1902), founder of the Congregation of Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Bernardo Corleone (1605-1667), a Sicilian criminal who became a Capuchin friar; and Teresa Eustochio Verzeri (1801-1852), Italian founder of the Institute of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The most numerous and festive group in the Vatican´s general audience auditorium were the Lebanese Catholics, who arrived accompanied by Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Maronite patriarch of Antioch, as well as Lebanese civil and political authorities.

John Paul II focused on St. Rafqa, as she is known in her homeland, and presented her as a model for Lebanese Christians in their tormented region.

"In the Middle East, ravaged by so many murderous conflicts and so many unjust sufferings, the witness of this Lebanese religious remains a source of confidence for those who are being tested," the Pontiff said.

"Accepting suffering as a means to love Christ and her brothers more, she lived to an eminent degree the missionary dimension of her consecrated life, drawing from the Trinity the strength to offer her life for the world, and completing in her own flesh what was lacking in Christ´s sufferings," the Holy Father added.

He concluded: "May the sick, the afflicted, the war refugees and all victims of hatred of yesterday and today, find in St. Rafqa a companion on the way so that, through her intercession, they will continue to search in the night for reasons to hope again and to build peace."