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Pope Francis canonizes two Palestinian saints

2015-05-18

Thousands of people applauded these four exceptional women at a ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, while Pope Francis read the formula that declared they were saints.

The newest saints are four nuns: one French, one Italian and two Palestinian. The latter two are the first saints from that region in contemporary times.

Both nuns lived in the nineteenth century under the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate. Many pilgrims came from Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine to see the ceremony. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended.

Mariam Baouardy risked her life for Christianity after she declined when her Turkish boyfriend wanted her to convert to Islam. The other, Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, founded the Sisters of the Holy Rosary, a religious community dedicated to education, including for Muslim girls.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem celebrated the Mass alongside Pope Francis, who discussed the example that that the four women set.

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"Their shining example also challenges our Christian life. Do I give witness to the Risen Christ? It is a question we must ask ourselves.”

The other two saints were known for their dedication to the poor and sick, and for Eucharistic adoration. That was the case of the Italian nun Maria Cristina Brando. The French nun Émilie de Villeneuve died during a cholera epidemic while caring for the sick in a hospital that her congregation created.

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