Pilgrims from the Edmonton Archdiocese, including Fr. Nilo Macapinlac (right), carry a banner honouring St. Peter Calungsod, a lay catechist from the Philippines who was martyred in 1672, as they arrive for the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 21.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

Pilgrims from the Edmonton Archdiocese, including Fr. Nilo Macapinlac (right), carry a banner honouring St. Peter Calungsod, a lay catechist from the Philippines who was martyred in 1672, as they arrive for the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 21.

October 29, 2012
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Proclaiming seven new saints – including St. Kateri Tekakwitha and St. Marianne Cope from North America – Pope Benedict said they are examples to the world of total dedication to Christ and tireless service to others.

An estimated 80,000 pilgrims from Canada, the United States, the Philippines, Italy, Spain, Germany and Madagascar filled St. Peter's Square Oct. 21 for the canonization of the holy women and men who ministered among their people.

The pilgrims applauded the proclamation of the new saints, who included: Kateri, an aboriginal woman born in the United States and who died in Canada in 1680; Mother Marianne, a Sister of St. Joseph who traveled to Hawaii to care for people with Hansen's disease and died in Molokai in 1918; and Pedro Calungsod, a young Philippine catechist who was martyred in Guam in 1672.

Harry Lafond of Muskeg Lake Sask., and chief Wilton Littlechild wait for the start of the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 21. At the Mass, Pope Benedict canonized St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first North American aboriginal saint.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

Harry Lafond of Muskeg Lake Sask., and chief Wilton Littlechild wait for the start of the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 21. At the Mass, Pope Benedict canonized St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first North American aboriginal saint.

In his homily at Mass following the canonization, Pope Benedict prayed that the example of the new saints would "speak today to the whole Church" and that their intercession would strengthen the Church in its mission to proclaim the Gospel to the world.

The pope also spoke about each new saint individually.

He called St. Kateri the "protectress of Canada and the first Native American saint," and he entrusted to her "the renewal of the faith in the First Nations and in all of North America."

"May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are," the pope said.

Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec told Catholic News Service the canonization of the first North American aboriginal person is "huge for us."

EXCELLENT MODEL

St. Kateri, Lacroix said, is an excellent model for young people of "living a simple life, faithful to the Lord in the midst of hostility."

Her life and canonization show that "saints don't have to do extraordinary things, they just have to love," he said.

An aboriginal woman holds up an image of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in St. Peter's Square.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

An aboriginal woman holds up an image of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in St. Peter's Square.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who is of American Indian descent, told CNS, St. Kateri "grew up in a place where there was great hostility toward Christianity."

However, she resisted all efforts to turn her away from her faith, "so in some ways she would be a model of fidelity in the face of persecution on religious freedom grounds," Chaput said.

Francine Merasty, 32, a Cree from Pelican Narrows, Sask., said, "Kateri inspires me because she's an aboriginal woman.

"According to sociologists, aboriginal women are at the lowest (social) strata, and for the Church to raise up to the communion of saints an aboriginal woman is so awesome and wonderful."

ST. PEDRO

Pope Benedict also praised St. Pedro, a catechist who accompanied Jesuit priests to the Mariana Islands in 1668.

Despite hostility from some of the natives, he "displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel."

The pope prayed that "the example and courageous witness" of St. Pedro would "inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the kingdom bravely and to win souls for God."