Pope Benedict XVI gave Catholics four news saints yesterday, bestowing the Church's highest honour in a ceremony in St Peter's Square.
A French-born nun who struggled in the 19th century in American frontier land, an Italian priest who helped the deaf, an Italian nun who pushed for public school education for girls and a Mexican bishop whose risked persecution during the revolution were proclaimed as saints.
Among those celebrating Mass on the steps of St Peter's Basilica were prelates based in the US Midwest, including ailing Chicago Cardinal Francis George and five churchmen from Indiana, where Mother Theodore Guerin, who is one of the four new saints, established a college for women, which enrolled its first student in 1841.
George, along with hundreds of alumnae, trustees and students of St Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana, flew to Rome for the ceremony. Benedict told the crowd that after a long journey by sea and land, Guerin, who was born in Brittany in 1798, and five other French nuns turned a log cabin into a chapel. By the time of her death, in 1856, her order was running schools and orphanages in Indiana, the Pope added.
The Pope also elevated to sainthood Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia, a missionary who was a great uncle of the Rev Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
Two Italians also joined the ranks of sainthood. The Rev Filippo Smaldone, who lived from 1848-1923, pioneered education and other assistance for the deaf and founded an order of nuns, the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts.
Rosa Venerini was another social pioneer. Living from 1656-1728, she founded the Congregation of the Holy Venerini Teachers order of nuns.