VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI named five new saints Sunday, including Portugal’s 14th-century independence leader and a priest who ministered to factory workers at the dawn of the industrial era.
Speaking in a packed St. Peter’s Square, Benedict praised each of the five as a model for the faithful, saying their lives and works were as relevant today as when they were alive.
Benedict singled out the Rev. Arcangelo Tadini, who lived at the turn of the 20th century and founded an order of nuns to tend to factory workers – something of a scandal at the time, since factories were considered immoral and dangerous places.
The only non-Italian canonized Sunday was Nuno Alvares Pereira, who helped secure Portugal’s independence from the Spanish kingdom of Castile, leading Portuguese forces in the critical Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. After leaving the military, he entered religious life as a Carmelite and changed his name to Nuno de Santa Maria. He dedicated himself to the poor, never taking the privileges that would have been afforded to him as a former commander.
Also canonized Sunday was Bernardo Tolomei, a nearly blind monk who founded the Benedictine Congregation of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto in the 1340s. He died in 1348 along with 82 of his monks after leaving the safety of his monastery to tend to plague victims in Siena.
The others canonized were Gertrude Comensoli and Caterina Volpicelli, 19th century Italian nuns who founded religious orders.