Last week Pope Francis canonized seven new saints for our Church. Two of them got a lot of attention in the press, while the other five barely rated a mention. One large newspaper referred to them simply as “five others.” The two “prime-time” celebrity saints were Archbishop Oscar Romero, of El Salvador, and Pope Paul VI. Below is a brief note on each of the “five others.”
St. Vincent Romano
Fr. Vincent Romano ministered and worked as a priest near Naples in Italy, devoting much of his life to caring for the poorest and most disadvantaged. He devoted a lot of his care to ensuring that orphans were looked after, and were offered opportunities to advance in life. We was also noted for his efforts to rebuild the local villages following the eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius. Throughout his life, inspired by the writings of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, he developed a profound devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. His path to sainthood began when Pope Gregory XVI declared him “Servant of God” in 1843.
St. Francesco Spinelli
Fr. Francesco spent his priesthood working among the poor, teaching in a seminary, and working to establish and build up the “ Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament.” Today his followers continue the work of the Institute in Italy, the African countries of Congo, Cameroon, and Senegal, as well as in Argentina and Colombia. The Institute is known for its work with orphans, drug addicts, prisoners, and those living with HIV. He was beatified by John Paul II in 1992.
St. Nunzio Sulprizio
Known to be a kind and compassionate youth, Nunzio’s parents died when he was only six years old. His uncle took him in, working him as an apprentice in his Blacksmith’s forge. It was difficult work and Nunzio was often sick as a result of the poor working conditions. He ultimately contracted bone cancer and died at the age of 19. In his young life, he developed a deep faith in the Lord, and bore his difficulties with the strength he derived from knowing all that Jesus endured for us. He was named “Servant of God” by Pius IX and beatified by Paul VI.
St. Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa
Over the strong the opposition of her family, Ignacia entered religious life. Originally from Spain, her family moved to Mexico where she took vows with the Sisters of the Abandoned Elders, and went to minister in Bolivia with those in need of hospice care. She was the foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church, and suffered much hostility for her work caring for soldiers on both sides of the Bolivia-Paraguay war in the 1930’s. She was beatified in 1992 by Pope John Paul II.
St. Maria Katharina Kasper
In her early childhood, Katharina didn’t attend school in her native Germany too much, as she instead worked alongside her mother to provide for the needs of the family. Because of, or in spite of her own experience of poverty, early in her young life she became a friend to the poor, the sick and the abandoned. When her mother died, Katharina established a small house with some friends to dedicate themselves to this work. She eventually took vows along with her friends and together they founded the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. They work today in Germany, the US, the Netherlands, India, and Mexico. She was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1977.
Sometimes, maybe more often than we’d care to admit, saints begin their journey of holiness just by being the best they can be in the particular circumstances in which they find themselves. It was certainly true of those canonized last week. Perhaps that is an encouragement for ourselves in pursuing our own life of holiness in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.