Two key figures in the establishment of the Catholic Church in Canada are likely to be declared saints before the end of the year, said a Jesuit who is helping prepare the material needed for their canonizations.
Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation, known as the Mother of the Canadian Church; and Blessed Francois de Laval, the first bishop of Quebec, are speeding their way to canonization, along with Blessed Jose Anchieta, the Apostle of Brazil.
The three were beatified together in 1980, along with now-Sts. Kateri Tekakwitha and Pedro de San Jose Betancur.
Born in France in 1599, Blessed Marie of the Incarnation married at a young age, bore a child and then took over her husband's business when he died when she was 19. After making the business profitable, she sold it, went to live with her parents and took a vow of celibacy.
Marie experienced a mystical vision in 1620 which deepened her religious fervour. In 1631, she entered the Ursuline order. More visions led her to believe she was called to help establish the Church in New France. In 1639, she and two other sisters were sent to New France and established a convent in Quebec.
They established the first school in what would later become Canada and welcomed students of both French and aboriginal backgrounds. She wrote dictionaries in Algonquin and Iroquois as well as a catechism in Iroquois.
Her voluminous writings about life in New France are considered a valuable source of historical information about life in the colony. She died in 1672.
Blessed Francois de Laval was born in France in 1623 and ordained a priest when he was 24. After distinguished service in his diocese, he was named vicar apostolic for Quebec in 1658 and soon set sail for New France.
There, Laval was a tireless missionary and opponent of the sale of alcohol to First Nations people. Eventually, he excommunicated all who sold alcohol to aboriginal people and succeeded in getting a royal decree banning the practice.
He established the Grand Séminaire in Quebec 1663 and was named a bishop in 1674. He insisted on training priests in the colony and established a parochial system. He died in 1708.
Jesuit Father Marc Lindeijer, vice postulator of sainthood causes for his order, said Pope Francis waived some of the procedures in the three causes in response to requests from the bishops' conferences of Canada and Brazil.
Usually, a miracle is needed after beatification to move a candidate to canonization. However, Pope Francis set aside that requirement when he announced he would declare Blessed John XXIII a saint, along with Blessed John Paul II, April 27.
Lindeijer told Catholic News Service Feb. 3 that Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, requested the Jesuits keep the three causes together and compile the documentation for their canonizations.
The documentation is known as a "positio," a book-sized document containing biographies of sainthood candidates and arguments for their canonizations based on their reputation for holiness, evidence of widespread devotion and reports of graces, favors and healings obtained through their intercession.
Usually, a positio is reviewed by at least six historians and a board of theologians appointed by the Congregation for Saints' Causes.
But Lindeijer said the positio for the Brazilian and Canadians would go "directly to the prelates of the congregation – the bishops and cardinals," who recommend causes to the pope.
The Jesuit said the pope could sign a decree recognizing the three new saints as early as April, then set a date for their canonization.
Devotion to the two Canadians and the Brazilian "is clear. Many people receive many graces praying to them, as with John XXIII," Lindeijer said. "On the basis of massive popular devotion, they will be canonized."