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  • Pope Francis, background center, celebrates a canonization mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis bows in front of an icon of Mary and baby Jesus as he celebrates a canonization mass for 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis, background center, walks with his pastoral staff as he arrives to celebrate a canonization mass for 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis walks with his pastoral staff as he arrives to celebrate a canonization mass for 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis is cheered by faithful as he leaves at the end of a canonization mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Prelates walk in procession prior to the start of a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the canonization of 35 new saints in St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Cardinals use umbrellas adorned with the Vatican flag colors to shelter from the sun during a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the canonization of 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • A priest uses an umbrella adorned with the Vatican flag colors, to shelter from the sun as he gathers with other prelates in St. Peter's Square during a canonization mass for 35 new saints celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis, background center, celebrates a canonization mass for 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis' pastoral staff is hit by a ray of the sun during the canonization mass for 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis leaves at the end of a canonization mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • The St. Peter's Basilica is reflected on a priest's sunglasses prior to the start of a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the canonization of 35 new saints at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Francis, left, asperges incense in front of an icon of Mary and baby Jesus as he celebrates a canonization mass for 35 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct.15, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Sunday, October 15, 2017 10:30 am

Pope adds 35 saints to church, nearly all martyrs

Associated Press

 

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis, who often laments current persecutions of Christians, has given the Catholic Church 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs, from past centuries.

The latest saints were proclaimed Sunday during a Mass celebrated by Francis in St. Peter's Square and attended by some 35,000 faithful, many of them pilgrims from the homelands of those being honored.

Thirty martyrs, including priests and lay persons, suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil, while three children, ages 12 and 13 who were indigenous persons in Mexico, were martyred in the 1520s for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions.

The other two new saints are a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739.

Since becoming pontiff in 2013, Francis has repeatedly paid tribute to Christians suffering or even dying for their faith in current times, especially in the Middle East.

At the end of the canonization ceremony, Francis hailed the new saints as "shining witnesses to the Gospel." In recent decades, the Church has stressed that the latest saints can serve as role models for today's Catholics.