Pope Francis has advanced the Causes of a Lutheran convert who established a branch of the Bridgettine order in Sweden and a US missionary who died while ministering to the wounded in Vietnam.
The Pope signed a decree recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, who refounded the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St Bridget, better known as the Bridgettines – and helped save Jews from the Nazis in Rome.
Born in Sweden in 1870 and baptised into the Reform Church, she migrated to the United States in 1886 to earn money for her family back home. After working as a nurse, she converted to Catholicism in 1902. Moving to Rome, she dedicated her life and her religious order to prayer and work for the attainment of Christian unity. In 1931 Blessed Mary Elizabeth received control of the House of St Bridget in Rome and established a new congregation in England. In 1937 she established a Brigittine foundation in India.
Blessed Mary Elizabeth also saved the lives of 60 people who sought refuge from the Nazis by hiding them at the order’s motherhouse in Rome. In 2004 she was honoured by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations. St John Paul II beatified her in Rome in 2000.
The Pope also signed decrees recognising the miracles needed for the beatifications of:
– Fr Ladislao Bukowinski, a Ukrainian priest who died in Kazakhstan in 1974.
– Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa, an Italian nun who founded the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer in the 18th century.
– Sister Mary of Jesus Santocanale, an Italian nun who founded the Congregation of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculate of Lourdes.
The Pope recognised the heroic virtues of a further five women and eight men, including Brother William Gagnon – an American member of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God who tended to the sick and wounded during the Vietnam War, before dying in 1972.
Francis also recognised the heroic virtues of Teresio Olivelli, an Italian who spoke out against Fascism and Nazism. Olivelli died trying to protect a fellow prisoner in a German concentration camp in 1945.
Patriarch calls for moderate celebration of Christmas
Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal has called for moderate celebrations of Christmas because of the political situation and for an end to the arms trade.
In his Christmas message, he urged a more spiritual celebration and encouraged all parishes to turn off the Christmas tree lights for five minutes in solidarity with victims of violence and terrorism. In Bethlehem the Christmas Mass will be offered for the victims and their families, he said, “that they take to heart the participation in the joy and peace of Christmas”.
The patriarch urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders to have the courage to work towards a just peace. “Enough of stalling, reluctance and false pretences,” he said. “Respect international resolutions. Listen to the voice of your people who aspire for peace, act in their best interest. Each of the two peoples of the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians, have the right to dignity, to an independent state and sustainable security.
“What suffering it is, to once again see our beloved Holy Land caught in the vicious cycle of bloody violence. What pain to see anew, hatred prevail over reason and dialogue … Enough! We are tired of this conflict as we see the Holy Land sullied with blood.”
World’s Holy Doors are opened
When Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of the Basilica of St John Lateran earlier this month, he said doing so was an “invitation to joy”.
On the same day Holy Doors were opened in cathedrals and churches around the world to mark the start of the Year of Mercy, which began on December 8 and will conclude on November 20, 2016, on the Feast of Christ the King.
In his homily the Pope said: “[Now] begins a time of the great forgiveness.”
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