Pope Canonizes 35, Announces Special Pan-Amazon Synod

The new saints are an example of the daily habit of choosing to love God, Francis said Oct. 15. He also announced an October 2019 meeting.

Banner of Blesseds Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan in preparation for their canonizations in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 15.


Image ID: 59e10ec87b718
Banner of Blesseds Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan in preparation for their canonizations in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 15. Image ID: 59e10ec87b718 (photo: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — On Sunday, Pope Francis announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in October 2019 on the state of evangelization in the Pan-Amazon region of South America.

“Accepting the desire of some Catholic bishops’ conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” Francis said Oct. 15.

The purpose of the assembly will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization” of people in the Pan-Amazon region of South America, meaning Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, “especially the indigenous people, often forgotten,” he said.

The assembly will also address the “crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet.”

The Pope’s announcement was made in St. Peter’s Square before the recitation of the Angelus and following the canonization Mass of 35 new saints.

New saints Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro and Mateo Moreira and 27 companions were all martyred in Brazil. Three teenage boys, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, also martyred, were from Mexico.

The other new saints are Faustino Miguez of Spain and Angelo of Acri, Italy.

“The new saints will intercede for this ecclesial event, so that, in respect for the beauty of creation, all the peoples of the earth may praise God, Lord of the universe, and enlightened by him walk on the paths of justice and peace,” Francis stated.

“Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love,” the Pope said in his homily about the heavenly banquet.

The newly canonized saints all responded to God with love, he explained. As the Gospel emphasizes, it is not enough to merely respond “Yes” to God’s invitation one time.

“Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the 'habit' of practicing love,” he said.

The newly canonized saints, especially the many martyrs, are an example of this daily habit of choosing to love God and choosing to do his will, he pointed out.

Cristobal, Antonio and Juan lived in Mexico in the 16th century, at the start of the Christian missionary work in the country. Cristobal was educated in the Christian faith by Franciscan missionaries, asking to be baptized.

He then began to share the Gospel with his family and acquaintances in an effort to convert them, especially his father, who had abusive habits and was frequently drunk.

One day, after Cristobal destroyed the pagan idols in his family's home, his father began to kick and beat him, breaking his arms and legs. The boy continued to pray, despite the intense pain, so his father threw him into a burning fire, killing him.

The boy Antonio and his young servant Juan, all born in the same town as Cristobal, helped the Dominican missionaries who were setting up a mission in a nearby town as interpreters for the other indigenous people.

The boys were warned that it was a task that could likely end in death, but they still volunteered to go. One day, while entering a house to destroy the pagan idols as usual, angry townspeople approached and began beating Juan to death with sticks.

Antonio turned to the aggressors and asked, “Why do you beat my companion, who has no fault? It is I who collect idols, because they are diabolical and not divine.” The people then turned to Antonio, also beating him to death.

The blood of the three boys is considered the first seed of the great growth of Catholicism in the country of Mexico.  

Martyrs Andre de Soveral and Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, diocesan priests, were killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil July 16, 1645; Mateo Moreira, a layman, and 27 fellow martyrs, were also killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil Oct. 3, 1645.

Manuel Miguez Gonzalez, who took the religious name Faustino of the Incarnation, was a priest and a professed member of the Piarists (the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). He lived 1831-1925 in Spain.

Angelo of Acri, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, lived in Italy 1669-1739.

Concluding his homily, the Pope urged everyone to ask the Lord, “through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters,” for the grace to make a habit of love, accepting God’s invitation to the wedding feast.

We should also ask for his help in keeping our wedding clothes “spotless.”

“How can we do this?” Francis asked. “Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness. This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.”

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope’s) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel ... and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

The Synod of Bishops may meet for ordinary general assemblies, which are on a matter of importance to the Church in general and held at fixed intervals, or for special assemblies, which focus on a specific geographical area of the Church.

Extraordinary general assemblies can also be organized in the case of an urgent matter.

The last special assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in 2010 on the situation in the Middle East.

The 50th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to take place in October 2018 and will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

The last Synod of Bishops was dedicated to the family and took place in two parts, the first being an extraordinary synod in 2014, which was followed by the ordinary synod in 2015 that drew 279 cardinals, bishops and representatives from all over the world to discuss the challenges and blessings of family life.

The opening of the Amazon synod at the Vatican's Synod Hall,  Oct. 7, 2019.

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