Pope Francis canonises two Palestinian women

A picture shows tapestries of four blessed nuns (from left) St Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, St Emilie de Villeneuve, St Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception and St Maryam Baouardy on the facade of St Peter's basilica during a papal mas
A picture shows tapestries of four blessed nuns (from left) St Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, St Emilie de Villeneuve, St Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception and St Maryam Baouardy on the facade of St Peter's basilica during a papal mass for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, on May 17, 2015 at St Peter's square in Vatican. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A general view shows the crowd in front St Peter's basilica during a Holy mass for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, two of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine, on May 17, 2015 in Vatican. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A general view shows the crowd in front St Peter's basilica during a Holy mass for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, two of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine, on May 17, 2015 in Vatican. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Members of the faithful wave Palestinian and Vatican flags before Pope Francis leads a ceremony for the canonisation of four nuns at St Peter's square in the Vatican City, on May 17, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Members of the faithful wave Palestinian and Vatican flags before Pope Francis leads a ceremony for the canonisation of four nuns at St Peter's square in the Vatican City, on May 17, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (left) and Palestinian authority President Mahmud Abbas (second left) stand in St Peter's square during a holy mass for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, two of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine, on May 1
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (left) and Palestinian authority President Mahmud Abbas (second left) stand in St Peter's square during a holy mass for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, two of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine, on May 17, 2015 in Vatican. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pope Francis leads a mass in St Peter's square for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, two of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine, on May 17, 2015 in Vatican. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Pope Francis leads a mass in St Peter's square for the canonisation of four blessed nuns, two of whom lived in Ottoman Palestine, on May 17, 2015 in Vatican. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A member of the faithful wears a T-shirt with the picture of the two Palestinian nuns being canonised before Pope Francis led a ceremony for the canonisation of four nuns at St Peter's square in the Vatican City, on May 17, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS&nb
A member of the faithful wears a T-shirt with the picture of the two Palestinian nuns being canonised before Pope Francis led a ceremony for the canonisation of four nuns at St Peter's square in the Vatican City, on May 17, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis named two Palestinian women as saints on Sunday, in a ceremony in Saint Peter's Square just days after the Vatican formalised its de facto recognition of the State of Palestine.

The canonisation of Sister Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, founder of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, and Maryam Baouardy, who founded a Carmelite convent in Bethlehem, was not directly connected with the Vatican's Wednesday announcement of a new accord with the State of Palestine.

But the ceremony, attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a delegation of senior clergy including the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, highlighted Pope Francis' longstanding drive to help embattled Christian communities in the Middle East.

Saint Peter's Square was decked out for the occasion with portraits of the Palestinians and two other newly sanctified nuns - the French Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve and Italian Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception Brando.

In a statement as he departed for the Vatican last week, Twal said Ghattas and Baouardy, who entered religious orders as teenagers in the late 1800s and died in 1927 and 1878 respectively, were an example for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

"It is a sign of our modern time which suggests that we can talk about the three religions without any discrimination," the patriarch said in a statement as he departed for the Vatican.

The canonisations of two Palestinians were the first of their kind "since the days of the apostles," Twal said.

On Saturday, the Pope met Abbas for a private visit, calling him "an angel of peace" and urging a renewed effort to find peace with Israel.