Pope puts new candidates on road to sainthood

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2004

VATICAN CITY (AP) An Italian priest forced to quit a political post because of Fascist violence, an Italian nun and two Spaniards are among the latest faithful put on the road to sainthood by Pope John Paul II.

The beatifications Sunday in St. Peter's Square raised to 1,324 the number of Roman Catholics upon whom the pontiff has bestowed the honor. Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood.

Doctors have urged the ailing 83-year-old pontiff to cut back on his taxing schedule, but John Paul has made such public ceremonies an important part of his shepherding of the Church, and he presided over the two-hour service on a damp day from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

He looked alert, reading the homily in its entirety and said the two newly beatified Spaniards could offer comfort for those grieving over the March 11 attacks in Madrid.

''Love is stronger than hate and death,'' the pope declared, speaking in Spanish from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica to several thousand pilgrims and tourists, including many groups from Spain.

The Madrid bombings killed about 190 people and wounded more than 1,400.

Among those beatified was Luigi Talamoni, who, after becoming a priest, was elected a city councilor in northern Italy, in 1893. He used the elected post to help the disadvantaged, but was forced to resign by Fascists. He died in 1926.

The pontiff also honored three others who overcame obstacles such as illness or opposition from their families to serve the church.

Sicilian Maria Barba became a Carmelite nun and founded a new monastery before her death in 1949.

Spaniard Matilde del Sagrado Corazon Tellez Robles founded a religious order which cares for orphans, the sick and poor. She died in 1902.

Spaniard Piedad de la Cruz Ortiz Real established an order of nuns dedicated to abandoned elderly and orphans. He lived a life of poverty, refusing a bed in his final illness, dying in a chair in 1916.

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