October 16, 2017 — Yesterday, Pope Francis canonized 35 new
saints, including Brazilian Jesuit St. André de Soveral.
The newest Jesuit saint was one of the 30 “Martyrs of Natal” who
were also canonized; they were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic
persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil.
St. de Soveral was born in Brazil in 1572 and entered the Society
of Jesus in 1593. His first missionary experience was in Rio Grande do Norte,
Brazil, in 1606 among the Potiguar Indios. In 1614, he began serving as a pastor
in Cunhau in Natal.
On July 16, 1645, Fr. de Soveral was celebrating Mass in Cunhau
when Dutch Calvinist soldiers burst into the chapel, attacked the faithful and
killed Fr. de Soveral. About three months later, a diocesan priest, Fr.
Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, and his parishioners were killed by the soldiers.
A banner of the "Martyrs of Natal,"
Brazil, hangs from the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Jesuit
André de Soveral is pictured on the left. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The 30 individuals martyred in these two events were beatified by St.
John Paul II in 2000; in March of this year, Pope Francis signed a decree that
approved their canonization while waiving the miracle required for sainthood.
Saints like the Martyrs of Natal offer a “new
opportunity, hope and a renewal of faith” that can bring peace to a world
battered by injustice, war and violence, said Brazilian Archbishop Jaime
“The grace of their canonization will certainly
help create a society that is less vengeful, less violent, more fraternal,” and
encourage Catholics to stand up “for the dignity of the people,” he said.
The other saints canonized yesterday included three
children, ages 12 and 13, who were indigenous persons in Mexico martyred in the
1520s for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith. The other two new saints
are a 20th-century priest from Spain, Faustino Miguez, and an Italian priest, Angelo
of Acri, who died in 1739. [Sources: Australian
Jesuits, CNS, Manresa-SJ.org, AP]