Vatican elevates 5 to sainthood

Among the pilgrims packing St Peter’s Basilica was Hawaii resident Audrey Toguchi, an 80-year-old retired teacher whose recovery from lung cancer a decade ago was called miraculous by the Vatican. She had prayed to Belgium-born Jozef De Veuster, more commonly known as Father Damien, who himself died from leprosy on Molokai island in 1889.

During the canonisation ceremony, which lasted more than two hours, Toguchi and her doctor, Walter Chang, joined a procession of the faithful bringing relics of the new saints to Benedict at the central altar of the basilica. The pontiff said the newly canonised had taken up the call of Jesus to give themselves totally without “calculation or personal gain.”

“Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is humanly incomprehensible at times, consists in no longer placing themselves at the centre, but choosing to go against the flow and live according to the Gospel,” Benedict said in his homily. Originally, the ceremony was set for St Peter’s Square to accommodate the tens of thousands of pilgrims expected to participate and cheer on their local heroes.

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