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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pope signs sainthood decrees in private

Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Once again returning to a streamlined practice in place before the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI chose a private audience for the signing of a variety of decrees related to sainthood causes.

Pope Benedict met Dec. 19 with Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, and authorized the publication of decrees related to 19 causes.

Pope John Paul also authorized publication of decrees during meetings with the prefect, but the meetings were anything but private. The postulators of the individual causes were invited, as were local bishops or heads of the candidates' religious orders and even members of the candidates' families.

An official of the Congregation for Saints' Causes told Catholic News Service Dec. 20 that, as he has shown on previous occasions, Pope Benedict "wanted to return to the essentials," keeping the ceremony simple.

The most unusual decrees involved the recognition of the "heroic virtues" of two candidates for sainthood who already are known as blessed.

The recognition that a candidate lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way usually is one of the very first steps in the process, preceding recognition of a miracle and the beatification ceremony.

Blessed Simon of Lipnicza, a Polish Franciscan, was born sometime during 1435-40 and died in 1524 while caring for the sick during a plague. The Vatican authorized limited public veneration of him in 1685, allowing him to be known as Blessed Simon.

In a similar way, Blessed Camilla Battista Varano, an Italian Poor Clare who lived 1458-1524, was given the title blessed after the Vatican authorized limited public devotion to her in 1843.

The 17 other decrees published Dec. 19 included the recognition of the martyrdom of two groups of Spaniards killed during their country's civil war in the 1930s.

One group was made up of 22 Franciscan friars and the other included 12 lay associates and professed members of the Dominican order.

With the formal recognition that the 34 were killed in hatred of the faith, their beatification ceremonies can be planned.

Unlike Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict normally does not preside over the beatification Masses, but delegates Cardinal Saraiva Martins or a local bishop to do so.

Nine individuals also are ready for beatification after Pope Benedict signed the decrees recognizing a miracle attributed to their intercession. Six of the nine are Italian priests or religious.

The other three include:

  • Indian Father Augustine Thevarparampil, a Syro-Malabar priest who lived 1891-1973.

  • A Dutch missionary to Brazil, Father Eustaquio van Lieshout, who lived 1890-1943.

  • German Sister Anna Maria Tauscher, founder of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, who lived 1855-1938.

  • Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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