The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle allowing five people on the path to sainthood to be canonized, the most prominent being Bl. Pope Paul VI and Bl. Oscar Romero.
With a second miracle approved, the path has been cleared for a date to be set for the canonization of each of the five candidates, allowing them to officially be declared a saint.
Though no date has yet been announced, both Paul VI and Oscar Romero are expected to be canonized together during the Synod of Bishops in October.
Born as Giovanni Montini in 1897 in the town of Concesio in the Lombardy region of Italy, the future Pope Paul VI was ordained a priest at the age of 22. He served as Archbishop of Milan prior to his election as Bishop of Rome in 1963.
As pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Pope St. John XXIII, and in 1969 promulgated a new Roman Missal. He died in 1978, and was beatified by Pope Francis Oct. 19, 2014.
Pope Francis himself unofficially confirmed the news of Paul VI’s canonization during his annual meeting with the priests of Rome Feb. 17. However, the Vatican’s announcement makes it official.
Apart from his role in the council, Paul VI is most widely know for his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was published in 1968 and reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception in wake of the sexual revolution. This year marks the 50th anniversary the historic encyclical, making the canonization of the author all the more relevant.
Both miracles attributed to Paul VI’s intercession involve the healing of an unborn child.
Bl. Oscar Romero, who was beatified by Pope Francis May 23, 2015, in El Salvador, was the archbishop of the nation’s capital city of San Salvador. He was shot while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980, during the birth of a civil war between leftist guerrilla forces and the dictatorial government of the right.
An outspoken critic of the violence and injustices being committed at the time, Romero was declared a martyr who was killed in hatred of the faith for his vocal defense of human rights.
The Vatican made the announcement about the acceptance of the miracles March 7, following a meeting between Pope Francis and Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the day before.
During the meeting, Francis advanced a total of 13 saints’ causes, recognizing at least one person as a martyr and allowing one religious sister to be beatified.
In addition to Paul VI and Oscar Romero, the Pope approved a second miracle for three other saints’ causes, allowing for their canonization. The new saints-to-be are: Bl. Francesco Spinelli, a diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Bl. Vincenzo Romano, a diocesan priest from Torre de Greco in Italy; and Bl. Maria Caterina Kasper, a German nun and founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis also recognized a first miracle attributed to Maria Felicia di Gesu Sacramento, a Discalced Carmelite nun from Paraguay who died in 1959, allowing for her to be beatified and receive the title “blessed.”
Additionally, he recognized the martyrdom of Slavic laywoman Anna Kolesárová. Born in Vysoká nad Uhom, Slovakia in 1928, she was killed by a drunken Soviet soldier near the end of the Second World War in 1944 for refusing his sexual advances.
At the time, Soviet troops were passing through Kolesárová’s district, which was then a part of Hungary, and occupied her village on the way. When one soldier entered her home and found the family in hiding, he attempted to sleep with Kolesárová, threatening her with death if she did not comply.
However, raised in a pious Catholic family, Kolesárová refused, and as a result was shot in front of her family at the age of 16.
In addition to these causes, Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtue of six people, allowing them to be called “venerable.”
Among these causes are: Polish Fr. Bernardo Lubienski of the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer; Cecilio Maria Cortinovis, an Italian Franciscan religious; Italian Sisters Giustina and Maria Schiapparoli, who founded the order of the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence of Voghera; Italian laywoman Antonella Bordoni, founder of the Lay Fraternity of the Little Daughters of the Mother of God; and Italian laywoman Alessandra Sabattini.