Pope Francis names six new saints, including two Indians

Faithful hold cut-outs of new Indian saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara (right) and Mother Euphrasia Eluvathingal before a canonisation ceremony led by Pope Francis, to make saints out of six men and women, in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on Novem
Faithful hold cut-outs of new Indian saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara (right) and Mother Euphrasia Eluvathingal before a canonisation ceremony led by Pope Francis, to make saints out of six men and women, in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on November 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Sunday named six new saints, including two from India, in a mass gathering tens of thousands of worshippers at Saint Peter's Square.

Some 5,000 Indians were among those attending the mass to see Francis canonise Kuriakose Elias Chavara (1805-1871) and Euphrasia Eluvathingal (1877-1952).

Both were from Kerala and members of the ancient Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in southern India.

Chavara was founder of the Church's first men's congregation and helped start the first women's congregation. Eluvathingal, also known as Rose, was part of the women's congregation.

Pope Francis spoke of taking inspiration from their "example of harmony and reconciliation".

"... Let the Lord give new missionary impetus to the Church in India so that, inspired by their example of harmony and reconciliation, Indian Christians continue on the path of solidarity and fraternal co-existence," he said.

The Indian Church, which according to tradition dates back to the arrival in southern India of St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles, accounts for only about 2 percent of the population.

The pope also canonised four Italians. They included Amato Ronconi, an early follower of the Franciscan order in the 13th century, and Nicola da Longobardi, a Franciscan from the 17th century.

The other two were Giovanni Antonio Farina, known in Italy in the 19th century as the "bishop of the poor", and Ludovico da Casoria, who worked to free African children from slavery.

Francis said all six had devoted themselves to the poor, sick and elderly.