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Pope beatifies six in St Peter's Square

Pope John Paul II beatified six holy men and women from Europe and Latin America in a ceremony in St Peter's Square on Sunday.

Of the six, three lived in the 20th century. Three were Italian priests, while two others were Latin American nuns.

Beatification, the last formal step before possible canonisation, requires evidence of one miracle after the person's death, except in the case of martyrs. John Paul now has beatified 1288 candidates for sainthood during his 23 year pontificate.

Three of those honored Sunday were Italian priests who founded religious orders. Another was an Italian whose family emigrated to Argentina and later, as a lay worker for a religious organisation, helped the sick there.

Another was a nun, Maria Romero Meneses, who was born in Nicaragua and performed her religious work in Costa Rica.

Another woman, Maria del Transito de Jesus Sacramentado Villegas, founded an order of Franciscan nuns and is the first Argentine woman to be beatified, the pope said.

The six candidates led lives of goodness and "became enthusiastic and courageous witnesses before the world," the pope said.

Speaking of Romero Meneses, John Paul expressed hope that the "beloved Central American people may find in the newly beatified, who loved them so much, abundant examples and instruction to renew and fortify the Christian life, so rooted in those lands."

At the end of the ceremony, Pope John Paul II made a pitch to people to do good works themselves. Noting that Sunday had been designated Organ Donation and Transplant Day, he said he hoped that "the solidarity of many would give hope to the many sick people waiting for a transplant."


16 Apr 2002