This has been my sixth day in Rome. While I'm eager to share my perspective on the Synod of Bishops, I must first recount the beautiful scene this morning at the Canonization Mass, as seen from my breezy vantage point next to the Saints above the the south-west colonnades.
"God, who does not wish for the death of the sinner, is always more merciful than his ministers; therefore be as merciful as you can, so that you will yourselves receive mercy from God."
In quoting Gaetano Errico, Pope Benedict XVI explained how the Naples-born priest had become "an expert in the 'science' of forgiveness." The founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary was one of four Blesseds who, following the Holy Father's solemn pronouncement of the F
ormula di Canonizzazione
, was today added to the Catalogue of Saints.
From the great number of Indian flags in the crowd, it was obvious that many in the congregation were there for the elevation of Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, now the first canonized Indian woman.
Swati Meheshwari, a reporter from New Delhi's largest cable network, explained to me that few had heard of then-Blessed Alphonsa outside of Tamil Nadu, India's southernmost state. Now the whole country is aware of her, which is timely given the anti-Christian violence occuring in the country's Orissa state. Indeed, the pontiff reiterated his concern for persecuted Christians before the Angelus, which followed the Mass, and offered St. Alphonsa as a model of perseverence through suffering.
The press area was filled with many members of the mainstream media, some of whom were struggling to understand precisely when the canonization rite would occur, as much of the program was in latin. Sr. Giovanna Gentili of the Holy See Press Office joyfully guided us along, with obvious enthusiasm for the liturgy at hand.
Also elevated to Sainthood were Maria Bernarda Bütler, the Swiss-born founder of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary help of Sinners, and Narcisa de Jesús Martillo Morán, an extraordinary Ecuadorian lay woman. Though the English homily is not presently available online, you can read the multilingual version here
. Expect the English homily text to appear on ZENIT