Pope declares 35 new Saints, 33 of them martyrs

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A crowd of 35,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday for the Pope’s Mass, during which over 30 martyrs were added to the church as saints, the Associated Press reports.

In total 35 new saints were added, which included priests and lay persons, 30 of whom suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil. Pope Francis also recognized three children, ages 12 and 13 who were indigenous persons in Mexico, who were martyred in the 1520s for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions. The last two saints were a 20th century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who perished in 1739.

Since claiming the title of Pope in 2013, Pope Francis has made a point to recognize those suffering and dying for their Christian faith in current times, including the many persecuted in the Middle East.

Thousands of people from the homelands of the 35 recognized looked on as the ceremony ended and Francis hailed the new saints as “shining witnesses to the Gospel.” The church has stressed that the latest saints will serve as role models for the world’s Catholics.

In February of last year, the European Union formally classified the persecution of Christians in the Middle East by ISIS as genocide.

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