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Pope to raise ‘gaucho priest’ and six others to sainthood



Pope Francis was due Sunday to proclaim seven new saints, including Argentina’s “gaucho priest” who served as an inspiration for the pontiff, and two people who died for their faith.

Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, born 1849 in the province of Cordoba, spent his days ministering to the poor and the sick, travelling the region on the back of a mule, and building church schools.

Francis has praised the 19th century Argentine as having had the “smell of his sheep” on him, a phrase he has used in the past to describe the best pastors, those who mingle with their flock and share their troubles.

Brochero cared for the sick during a cholera epidemic in 1867 and would go on to contract leprosy, reportedly after sharing with a sufferer a gourd of the herbal tea mate — a drink Francis often sips when offered to him by pilgrims in the crowds.

The youngest of the new saints will be Jose Sanchez del Río, a 14-year-old who was killed in 1928 in Mexico after refusing to renounce his faith during the “Cristero” struggle between Catholics and the anti-clerical Mexican government.

A handwritten note to his mother which was found on his body read “I promise that in heaven I will prepare a place for all of you. Your Jose dies defending the Catholic faith for the love of Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe”, according to Vatican Radio.

Salomone Leclercq also died defending his faith. Born in 1745 in France to a family of merchants, he entered the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools — known as the “De La Salle Brothers” — where he served as a teacher and novices master.

He was run through with a sword during the French Revolution after refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the new French government, and his murder, along with that of dozens of other religious figures, was seen as driven by a “hatred of the faith”.

– ‘1,000 times a priest’ –

France’s second new saint will be the mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity, who died aged just 26 of Addison’s disease in 1906.

A gifted pianist, Elizabeth reportedly refused several offers of marriage to join the Barefoot Carmelites near her house and undertake a life of contemplation where she dedicated herself to prayer and spiritual writings.

She will be joined by Italian Alfonso Maria Fusco, a priest from the southern city of Salerno, who was born to a farmer in 1839 and went on to found the “Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist”, known as Baptistine Sisters.

While the sisters educated the young and spread the word of God, Fusco helped the impoverished farmers of southern Italy.

Fellow Italian Lodovico Pavoni from Brescia founded the religious congregation “Sons of Mary Immaculate” and taught the poor and downtrodden trades to help them put bread on the table and faith to help them enter heaven.

And Spain’s Bishop of Palencia Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, born in 1877, founded the “Congregation of the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth” as well as the “Disciples of Saint John” and the “Children of Reparation”.

He enlisted in the seminary of Seville at the tender age of 12, and it was there that he wrote: “If I would be born a thousand times; a thousand times I would be a priest”.

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