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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.