The Vatican

Decrees of canonization: Mother Teresa of Calcutta will become a saint on September 4

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Albanian nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity, will be canonized on Sunday, September 4. The decree was signed by Pope Francis during the Ordinary Consistory held at the Vatican on March 15. 

Giovanni Tridente-April 13, 2016-Reading time: 5 minutes
St. Peter's Square at the Vatican

On the same occasion, the dates for the canonizations of four other future saints were also made official: on Sunday, June 5, the Polish priest Stanislaus of Jesus Mary and the nun Maria Isabel Hesselblad, foundress of the Order of St. Bridget, will be elevated to the glory of the altars. And on Sunday, October 16, will be proclaimed saints José Sánchez del Río, martyred in 1929 in Mexico when he was only 14 years old, and José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, a very popular priest in Argentina to whom Pope Francis is very devoted.

Mother Teresa's canonization had already been announced months ago as being near precisely during the Jubilee of Mercy, for the witness of service to the last that characterized her entire life and for her apostolate among the poor, the sick, and in general the "last and the forgotten". Her humility, notwithstanding the immense good she has done in the world, led her to define herself as a "woman of mercy". "little pencil in the hands of God."She found the strength for this immense charitable work, often in situations truly close to the limits of human dignity, in prayer. Mother Teresa was also the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate, received in 1979, when in her famous speech in Oslo on the occasion of the award ceremony she made a moving appeal against abortion: "Please don't destroy the children, we will take them in.") to be elevated to the honor of the altars.

The story of Maria Isabel Hesselblad, foundress of the "Brigids", is also linked to the most needy; she emigrated to America when she was very young to help her family financially, worked as a nurse in a large hospital in New York, and there she experienced pain and suffering. Later, in 1904, she reconstituted the Order of St. Bridget in Rome; during the Second World War she gave refuge to many persecuted Jews and transformed her home into an oasis of charity. Today she is venerated as Mother of the poor and Teacher of the spirit.

The apostolate of the Pole Stanislaus of Jesus Mary dates back to 1600, exercised as a preacher and confessor, until the foundation of the Congregation of the Minor Marian Clerics, which has among its purposes the suffrage for the needy souls in purgatory.

The figure of José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero immediately brings to mind the first Argentinean Pope. Much loved by his people, the priest lived in Argentina between the 19th and 20th centuries, and was known as the "gaucho priest" because - like the ranchers in his country - he traveled immense distances on a mule to be close to everyone. In 2013, on the occasion of his beatification, Francis described him as a shepherd with the scent of sheep, a priest "who became poor among the poor". and became "a caress from God to his people"..

Another new Latin American saint is José Sánchez del Río, martyred in 1928 at the age of 14, during the revolt of the "Cristeros" against the anti-Catholic persecutions ordered by the then Mexican president Calles. Captured by government soldiers, he did not renounce his faith despite torture and mistreatment, screaming to the death: "¡Long live Christ the King!". On its body would be found this writing: "Dear Mom, I have been captured. I promise you that in paradise I will prepare a good place for all of you."concluding: "Your Joseph dies in defense of the Catholic faith for the love of Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe.".

New decrees

Pope Francis has also authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate other decrees concerning the miracles attributed to the intercession of Blessed Manuel González García, who was Bishop of Palencia and founder of the Eucharistic Reparatory Union and of the Congregation of the Eucharistic Missionary Sisters of Nazareth; Blessed Isabel de la Trinidad, professed nun of the Discalced Carmelite Order; the Servant of God Maria-Eugenio de Jesus Niño, also a professed monk of the Discalced Carmelites and founder of the Secular Institute of Our Lady of Life; and the Servant of God Maria Antonia de San Jose, Argentinean founder of the Beaterio de los Ejercicios Espirituales in Buenos Aires. 

In addition, the decrees of heroic virtues of the Servants of God were authorized for Stefano Ferrando, a Salesian who was Bishop of Shillong and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians; Enrico Battista Stanislao Verjus, titular bishop of Limyra, belonging to the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; Giovanni Battista Quilici, parish priest and founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Crucified; Bernardo Mattio, also a parish priest; Quirico Pignalberi, professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual; and of the Servants of God Teodora Campostrini, foundress of the Congregation of the Minimal Sisters of Charity of Mary of Sorrows; Bianca Piccolomini Clementini, foundress in Siena of the Company of Saint Angela of Merici; Maria Nieves Sanchez y Fernandez, professed religious of the Daughters of Mary of the Pious Schools.

Penitential Liturgy at St. Peter's

On March 4, Pope Francis once again celebrated a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica for the initiative "24 hours for the Lord".The first of its kind, a worldwide campaign to help rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent, was carried out. It is not by chance that he himself has resorted to confession, before confessing some of the faithful.

"Today more than ever, especially we Pastors, we are called to listen to the cry, perhaps hidden, of those who wish to meet the Lord".Francis said during his homily, adding that "we must certainly not diminish the demands of the Gospel, but we cannot run the risk of spoiling the sinner's desire to be reconciled with the Father, because what the Father expects before anything else is the son's return home."

Catholics in the world are on the rise

In recent days, statistical data concerning the Catholic Church in the period 2005-2014 have been released, from which it emerges first of all that the Catholic faithful have grown in recent years by 14.1 %, at a higher rate than the world population (10.8 %). Obviously, the growth is very diverse in each continent: for example, it is very high in Africa (41 %) and Asia (20 %), good in America (11.7 %) and somewhat scarce in Europe (2 %), where Catholics represent 40 % of the population.

With regard to the distribution of Catholics in the world, the primacy goes to America (48 %), followed by Europe (23 %), Africa (17 %), Asia (11 %) and Oceania (1 %).

There has also been an overall increase in the number of priests (+2.3%) to 415,792, with differences also according to geographic area: in Africa and Asia there has been an increase of 32.6 % and 27.1 % respectively, while in Europe there has been a decrease of 8 %. The evolution of the number of seminarians is analogous, and since 2005 has increased from 114,439 to 116,939, thanks above all to the emerging continents, Asia and Africa. 

The number of women religious in the world is 668,729, while the ecclesial component that has grown the most in recent years (+33.5 %) is that of permanent deacons, who have increased from 33,000 in 2015 to 45,000 in 2014.

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