April 29, 2001

Puerto Rican among 5 beatified by pope

                  VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II added five new names to the
                  ranks of Catholics on the road to sainthood Sunday, including a layman
                  from Puerto Rico, the island's first native to be beatified.

                  Puerto Ricans in the crowd in St. Peter's Square cheered heartily and waved the
                  island's flag when the pope read out the name of Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, an
                  office clerk who died in 1963 after dedicating his life to the church.

                  Also beatified were: Esther Blondin of Quebec, who, using the religious name
                  Mother Marie Anne, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Ann in 1850
                  to educate poor rural children; Caterina Cittadini and Caterina Volpicelli, Italian
                  women who founded religious orders in the 19th century; and Manuel Gonzalez
                  Garcia, bishop of Malaga and Palencia, Spain, who died in 1940 after living
                  through the difficult years of the Spanish civil war.

                  Last month, the pope beatified 233 martyrs -- nuns, priests and lay people who
                  died in the Spanish civil war. That ceremony stood out as the largest number
                  ever beatified in a single ceremony, reflecting the pontiff's determination to give
                  his faithful many role models, including from modern times.

                  "Help us to follow, in our way, the path of holiness, especially when it becomes
                  difficult," the pope said. The ailing John Paul, who turns 81 next month, looked
                  tired but his voice held up well during much of the two-hour-plus ceremony, in
                  which some 25,000 people gathered in the square under a strong late-morning

                  Banners decorated with images of the five persons honored were draped over the
                  facade of St. Peter's Basilica and were unveiled after the pope declared them

                  Since none of the five Catholics honored on Sunday was a martyr, their
                  beatification required that a miracle be attributed to their intercession. Another
                  miracle following their beatification is necessary if they are someday to be
                  canonized, or declared saints.

                  John Paul ruled in 1999 that the 1981 recovery of a woman who had
                  non-Hodgkins malignant lymphoma was a miracle brought about by
                  prayers to Rodriguez.

                  Rodriguez himself was ill since childhood, and sickness forced him to leave the
                  university. The former altar boy worked as an office clerk, spending "almost his
                  entire modest salary to promote knowledge and love of Christ," the Vatican said.

                  He translated articles on liturgy from English into Spanish and organized study
                  groups to promote the faith. He encouraged participation by lay people in the
                  years before the Second Vatican Council officially encouraged it. He died when
                  he was 44 after being operated on for a cancerous tumor.

                  May Rodriguez's "example help all the church in Puerto Rico to be faithful, living
                  with steadfast coherence the values and Christian principles received during the
                  evangelization of the island," the pope said in Spanish during his homily.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.