Four new Catholic saints were proclaimed by Pope Francis on Sunday at a mass for some 65,000 people in St Peter’s Square.
Those canonised included the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, the 19th century French nun who is one of the Church’s most venerated figures.
Their “outstanding humility and charity” was an example for all, Francis said.
“The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guerin practiced Christian service in the family, creating, day by day, an environment of faith and love,” he told worshippers.
The couple had nine children, four of whom died in childbirth. The five surviving girls all became nuns, and one was St. Therese of Lisieux, who died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24.
Popularly known as ‘The Little Flower,’ the nun of the Carmelite order achieved a worldwide following with the publication after her death of ‘The Story of a Soul,’ a collection of her thoughts on faith and simplicity.
Her writings influenced people as disparate as popes and Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac. She was made a saint in 1925 and in 1944 Pope Pius XII proclaimed her the co-patroness of France along with Joan of Arc.
Present at the ceremony were the teenage 13-year-old Italian boy and the Spanish girl who the Church believes miraculously recovered from incurable illnesses after praying to the Martins.
The Pope’s historic intervention – marking the first time a married couple have been declared saints in the same ceremony – was held to coincide with a world gathering of bishops discussing ways to bolster family life.
He also canonised Vincenzo Grossi, a priest who died in 1917 and spent most of his life helping the poor in northern Italy
and María Isabel Salvat Romero, a 20th century Spanish nun.