Among these ten “canonized” are the French religious Marie Rivier (1768-1838) and César de Bus (1544-1607) as well as the Dutch priest and journalist Titus Brandsma, known for his commitment against Nazi propaganda during the Second World War.
Their portraits hung on the facade of the largest basilica in the world. Among the official delegations, the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, stood near the Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Unlike in recent days, Pope Francis, 85, who suffers from knee pain, did not appear in a wheelchair before presiding this mass, alongside around 50 cardinals and some 300 priests and bishops.
Early Sunday, in summer weather, groups of pilgrims – many of them French – had begun to flock to the square, some wearing polo shirts or scarves with the name and face of one of the ten new “saints”.
Canonization – a step to becoming a “saint” in the Catholic Church, following beatification – requires three conditions: to have been dead for at least five years, to have led an exemplary Christian life and to have performed at least two miracles.
The beatification trial of Charles de Foucauld, who was assassinated in 1916 in Tamanrasset, in the Algerian desert south, began in the 1930s. He was declared “blessed” in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.
After being cured of cancer in 1984, a second miracle was attributed to Charles de Foucauld by the Vatican: the unusual story of a young carpenter from Saumur (central France), who survived a fall from 15 meters on a bench, despite a pierced abdomen.
The martyr Devasahayam (Lazarus) Pillai (1712-1752), a Hindu convert to Christianity, is the first Indian layman to become a “saint”, according to the Vatican. Arrested, he was tortured for three years and then executed, having refused to recant his faith.
The other five canonists are the Italian priests Luigi Maria Palazzolo and Giustino Maria Russolillo, the Italian nuns Maria Domenica Mantovani and Maria di Gesù Santocanale, and the Italian-Uruguayan Maria Francesca Rubatto, who becomes Uruguay’s first saint.