Pope gives church 27 new Mexican saints
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II on Sunday gave the Catholic church
27 new Mexican saints, all but two of them killed under anti-clerical
governments in the 1920s and 1930s.
Some 20,000 Mexicans were among a crowd of about 50,000 faithful who
attended the two-hour long canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square, baked
by a strong sun.
The best known of the 25 martyrs is the Rev. Cristobal Magallanes who is
believed to have pardoned his killers as he was shot by a firing squad in 1927.
Also made saint was a nun, Maria de Jesus Sacramentado, who died in 1959
the age of 90. In 1886, she had joined a group of pious women who ran a small
hospital for the poor and which later became known as the Daughters of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Another new saint is Jose Maria de Yermo y Parres, a priest who died at
in 1904. He founded schools, hospitals, nursing homes and orphanages.
Images of the new saints were hung on the facade on St. Peter's Basilica,
many Mexicans joyfully waved their country's flag or snapped photos during the
Giving his homily in Spanish, John Paul paid tribute to the martyrs --
and three laymen who aided clergymen. Recalling "the harsh trials that the
church underwent in Mexico in those convulsive years, " the pope said "today
Mexican Christians, aided by the testimony of these witnesses of the faith, can
live in peace and harmony, bringing to society the richness of those evangelical
Before Sunday's ceremony, Mexico had only one national saint, San Felipe
Jesus, a monk who was crucified in Japan when his ship stopped there in a
storm and who was canonized in 1862.
With the latest canonization, John Paul has given the church 323 saints
becoming pope in 1978.
His record-setting numbers of canonizations and 989 beatifications -- the
formal step before sainthood -- reflects his determination to give Catholics new
role models as their faith is tested by what he sees as distractions of
consumerism in developed countries and the competition of quickly rising
evangelical sects in less developed parts of the world, including Latin America.
A 1992 reform of Mexico's 1917 anti-clerical constitution removed the most
severe restrictions on religious activity, and the Catholic church in Mexico has
been trying to reclaim a more public role. State crackdowns on religion in the
1920s set off several years of a Catholic uprising known as the Cristera War.