ROME — During the weekend break of the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Basilica for the recent canonization of two new Canadian saints, St. Francois de Laval and St. Marie of the Incarnation.
Both are cases of what’s known as “equipollent canonization,” which means that Pope Francis set aside the normal sainthood process, including the requirement for miracles, to award them halos.
This exception, which disregards the ordinary judicial process of canonization, is sometimes made when there is strong devotion among the faithful toward holy men and women who have not been canonized.
Francis used this resource more than once in the past 18 months, with Pope John XXIII being the most prominent example.
Founders of Catholicism in Canada, these two new saints left France to be missionaries in the “New France” and are considered by Pope Francis as models of spreading the faith.
“Missionaries have gone out to call everyone, in the highways and byways of the world,” Francis said in his homily. “In this way they have done immense good for the Church, for once the Church stops moving, once she becomes closed in on herself, she falls ill, she can be corrupted, whether by sins or by that false knowledge cut off from God which is worldly secularism.”
The pontiff, who is a Jesuit, a religious order known for its missionary work, had dreams of being a priest in Asia. He said during the Mass that the Church’s mission of evangelization is a proclamation of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.
“Missionaries have served the Church’s mission by breaking the bread of God’s word for the poor and those far off, and by bringing to all the gift of the unfathomable love welling up from the heart of the Savior,” he said.
“Honoring those who endured suffering to bring us the Gospel means being ready ourselves to fight the good fight of faith with humility, meekness, and mercy in our daily lives.”
At a press conference in Rome Saturday, Cynthia Ann Patterson, wife of the Anglican bishop of Quebec, Dennis Drainville, said St. Marie of the Incarnation was “a great role model for women today.”
“She was single working mom,” she said. “She was widowed at a young age (19) and had a little boy. She had to work to support her family, and her letters are rich in the social history of the women at the time as well as her spirituality.”
“She was doing that juggling that we women do,” Patterson said. Thirteen years after the death of her husband, she joined the Ursuline nuns and, in 1642, founded the first school for young women in North America.
The bishop and his wife were present at the press conference because the life and works of both saints are also celebrated by the Anglican Church of Canada.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that St. Francois de Laval was a Jesuit.