Pope Beatifies Two Indians Lynched For Their Faith

John Paul II Concludes 97th International Trip

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MEXICO CITY, Aug. 1, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II beatified two Mexican Indians today, presenting the martyrs from the southern state of Oaxaca as examples for the Church and the world.



The Holy Father presided over the Liturgy of the Word (there was no eucharistic celebration) in the Basilica of Guadalupe, attended by a diversity of ethnic groups.

Blesseds Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles, Zapotec Indians, married and fathers of families, urge all those who are baptized to become evangelizers, the Holy Father said. The two men were martyred for refusing to deny their faith, on Sept. 16, 1700 in their village, San Francisco Cajonos.

At the end of the beatification ceremony, the Holy Father said farewell to Mexico.

"I am going, but in my heart I stay," John Paul II said spontaneously before concluding. "Beautiful Mexico, may God bless you," he added as the faithful in the basilica gave him a standing ovation.

The Pope hoped that the ceremony would become an expression of appreciation for primitive cultures.

The two blesseds, he said, "encourage indigenous peoples today to appreciate their cultures and languages, and above all their dignity as children of God. This dignity must be respected by others in the context of the Mexican nation, made up of peoples of many different origins but willing to build a common family in solidarity and justice."

Some Indians accompanied the Pope during the opening procession and placed a floral necklace around his neck as a sign of welcome.

The Holy Father greeted the faithful in several native languages. During the penitential service a rite of purification took place according to the tradition of the indigenous peoples.

Following the martyrs' beatification, there was a procession and veneration of the relics. Indians from Oaxaca carried flowers, candles, and incense to adorn the relics.

The ceremony ended with the "dance of the feather." The Pope beat out the rhythm with his right hand.

Later, during his homily, the Pope said, "The two 'Blesseds' are an example of how, without regarding one's ancestral customs as myths, one can reach God without renouncing one's own culture but letting oneself be enlightened by the light of Christ, which renews the religious spirit of the best popular traditions."

"Exemplary in carrying out their public duties, they are a model for everyone, in the little villages or in the large social structures, whose duty it is to promote the common good with great care and selflessness," he added.

Among the intentions made during the prayer of the faithful, expressed in native languages, was the recognition of the dignity of indigenous peoples. There were also prayers for the sick, the suffering, priestly and religious vocations in the Church, and the overcoming of all forms of racism.

During the final moments of the ceremony, the Holy Father was given handmade articles of the different indigenous cultures.

After the beatification, the Pope went directly to Mexico City's airport, where there was a simple farewell ceremony.

Thus John Paul II concluded his 97th international trip, which began 11 days ago when he met with young people in Canada for World Youth Day, before traveling to Guatemala to canonize Brother Pedro of San José de Betancur.