Pope Canonizes Four Witnesses of Evangelical Charity

The Two Polish and Two Italians Were Founders

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II presented four new saints to the Church in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, May 18; over 50,000 faithful attended, half of whom were from Poland.



The new Polish saints are Bishop Joseph Sebastian Pelczar (1842-1924), founder of the congregation of Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Ursula Ledochowska (1865-1939), founder of the Ursuline Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony.

In addition, the Holy Father canonized two Italians: Maria De Mattias (1805-1866), founder of the congregation of Sisters, Adorers of the Blood of Christ, and Virginia Centurione Bracelli (1587-1651), founder of the Religious of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary and of the Religious Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary.

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, "expressed his faith in the universal call to salvation... his life's motto was: 'Everything for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the immaculate hands of the Most Holy Virgin Mary,'" the Pope said during his homily.

"He understood his gift to Christ above all as a response to his love, enclosed and revealed in the sacrament of the Eucharist," he underlined.

St. Ursula Ledochowska "addressed everyone with the language of love demonstrated with works," the Pope said.

With that same language, "she traveled through Russia, the Scandinavian countries, France, and Italy," becoming "an apostle of the new evangelization" and giving "proof with her life and activity of the constant importance, creativity, and efficacy of evangelical love," the Holy Father said.

"We can all learn from her to construct with Christ a more human world, a world in which values like justice, freedom, solidarity, and peace will be ever more fully realized," John Paul II continued.

For her part, St. Maria De Mattias "was interiorly conquered by the mystery of the Cross. In her, the love for Jesus crucified was translated in a passion for souls and a humble dedication to her brothers and sisters, to the 'dear neighbor,' as she liked to say."

When referring to St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli, a laywoman, John Paul II said that "putting her noble origins aside, she dedicated herself to the assistance of the marginalized with extraordinary selflessness."

"The efficacy of her apostolate derived from an unconditional adherence to the divine will, which she nourished with incessant contemplation and obedient listening to the word of the Lord."

With Sunday's celebration, John Paul II has canonized 489 blesseds in the close to 25 years of his pontificate.