Marist Brothers founder Marcellin Champagnat is one of three new saints canonsed yesterday by Pope John Paul II before thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square.
    The other new saints are Giovanni Calabria, founder of the Poor Servants of Divine Providence, known as the apostle of the street children, and Agostina Livia Pietrantoni, a Sister of Charity murdered by one of her patients in the hospital where she worked. Yesterday's event brought the number of canonisations by this Pontiff to 283.
   During the homily, the Holy Father underlined the lessons these three new saints have left for Christians of all times. He began by saying that Marcellin Champagnat had a "total love" for youth. He was a French priest who died in the mid-19th century and who, "thanks to his unshakable faith, was loyal to Christ even in difficulties, in a world which often seemed to have lost all sense of God." The Pope was referring to the turbulent years during which Champagnat lived, who was born the day of the fall of the Bastille in 1789, which began the French Revolution.
    "Saint Marcellin announced the Gospel with an ardent heart. He was sensitive to the spiritual and educational needs of his time, especially the prevailing religious ignorance, and the abandonment which youth were experiencing," the Pope said.
    The Holy Father proposed Champagnat as "a model for all parents and educators to help them look upon youth with hope, to encourage them with total love, which will make a true human, moral and spiritual formation possible."
    More than 15,000 of Champagnat's spiritual followers were in Saint Peter's Square, all in festive mood; some had come from distant lands, including Asia, where missionaries were sent from the very earliest years of the Marist foundation. Today the Marists have 5,000 members and 800 houses in 72 countries. For this reason, John Paul II considers the founder as an example inviting all Christians "to be missionaries to make Jesus Christ known and loved, as the Marists did as far as Asia and Oceania."

9:38am 15/4/99 / Zenit


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