Pope Benedict XVI canonised the following three blessed on October 23: Guido Maria Conforti, Italian archbishop-bishop and founder of the Pious Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions (1865-1931); Luigi Guanella, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Charity and of the Institute of the Daughters of Our Lady of Providence (1842-1915), and Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, Spanish foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of St. Joseph (1837-1905).
In the homily he pronounced following the rite of canonisation, the Pope first recalled how today marks World Mission Day, which annually seeks “to reawaken energy and commitment for the mission”. He then went on to describe the characteristics of the three new saints who, he said, “allowed themselves to be transformed by divine love, around which they moulded their entire lives. In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart, and their neighbours as themselves, becoming an example to all believers”.
The Holy Father explained how the motto of St. Guido Maria Conforti, “Caritas Christi urget nos” (Christ’s Charity impels us), “sums up the programme of the missionary institute … he founded: a religious family entirely dedicated to evangelisation, under the protection of the great apostle of the East, St. Francis Xavier”. In his episcopal mission this new saint “dedicated his every effort to the good of the souls entrusted to his care, especially those who had abandoned the way of the Lord. His life was marked by many trials, some of them serious”, but “in all circumstances, even amidst the most mortifying failures, he was able to recognise the plan of God Who guided him to build His Kingdom, particularly by self-denial and daily acceptance of divine will. … He was the first to practise and bear witness to what he taught his missionaries: that perfection consists in doing God’s will, following the model of the crucified Christ”.
Speaking of St. Luigi Guanella, the Pope highlighted how “he practised the Gospel of Charity, which is ‘the great commandment’, with great courage and determination”. He was “companion and teacher to the poorest and the weakest, their comfort and relief. Love of God made him desire the good of the people in his care, in the tangible reality of everyday life”. Don Guanella, as he is known in Italy, “cultivated in his heart the hope that all human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, … may draw out and give the best of themselves to others. … In his witness, so charged with humanity and concern for the weakest, we see a glowing sign of the presence and benevolent action of God”, the Holy Father said.
“From her beginnings”, St. Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, “was able to unite her daily activities with adherence to Christ. She worked from childhood, not just as a way to avoid being a burden to others, but also a means to be free to realise her own vocation. This gave her the chance to attract and form other women who recognised God and heard His loving call in the world of work, discerning and realising their own life project. Thus the Sisters Servants of St. Joseph came into being, in the midst of that evangelical humility and simplicity which sees the home of