On Sunday, Oct. 23, the Holy Father canonized three new saints. If you look at the picture you can see their tapestries hanging from St. Peter's Basilica. I got to the square early in order to get a chance to visit with the pilgrims who had come to Rome for the canonization. I met five wonderful Italian ladies sitting behind me. They had come for St. Conforti. I enjoyed talking with them about the new saint since they came from the same part of Italy as St. Conforti. I think they enjoyed telling me all about life in Italy and of course, all about their children and grandchildren. Sitting in front of me were pilgrims from Salamanca, Spain. I had less luck conversing with them, since my Spanish is a bit rusty. The whole celebration reminded me or World Youth Day because of the excitement in the air. I was impressed by the number of young people in attendance.
Now a little about these new saints (paraphrased from the worship aid) who already having been in heaven can intercede for us.
- St. Bonfiacia Rodriguez de Castro (1837-1905) was born in Salamanca, Spain. She founded a novel way of feminine religious life called the Congregation of the Servants of St. Joseph. Their charism is to recreate in their houses the "Shop of Nazareth" by offering work to poor unemployed women. The religious women lived in the world neither wearing habits or contributing a dowery, yet working side by side with lay women. Her spirituality can be summed up like this: "To harmonize prayer and work." Her work is not finished. She continues to look after the dignity of women workers today.
- St. Luigi Guanella (1842-1915) was born in Fraciscio, Lombardy (northern Italy). As a young diocesan priest he was attracted to the work of St. Don Bosco, who worked with poor boys. After three years in that order, he came home to start a similar congregation of women whose charism it is to serve young girls. It is called the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. He gathered a group of priest around him called the "Servants of Charity" who also dedicated themselves to the service of young girls. He even came to the US for a small time just before the outbreak of WWI. His life was dedicated to the service of poor young girls. He once said "It is impossible to stop as long as there are poor people to be helped."
- St. Guido Maria Conforti (1865-1931) was born in Parma, Italy. From a young age, he felt called to the missions, but because of poor health he could not go. So instead he founded the St. Francis Xavier Foreign Missions Society to be able to send priests to the missions. In 1902 Pope Leo XIII named him archbishop of Ravenna, but his health was too poor and he resigned. Later in 1907 his health improved enough to be asked by St. Pius X to govern the diocese of Parma. His particular focus as bishop of Parma was the Christian education of the children. He is loved around the world wherever the missionaries from his society have worked. In fact the miracles for his beatification and canonization were in Burundi and Brazil, respectively.