San Francisco Chronicle
Pope rallies from knee pain to proclaim 10 new saints
ROME — Pope Francis created 10 new saints on Sunday, rallying from knee pain that has forced him to use a wheelchair to preside over the first canonization ceremony at the Vatican in over two years.
Francis stood for a long period at the start to greet priests concelebrating the Mass, presided over the nearly two-hour ceremony and then stood and walked for a good 15 minutes after it ended to greet dozens of cardinals and bishops. Vatican cameras lingered on the scene as if to showcase the pope’s mobility and refute speculation about his health and the future of his pontificate.
Francis, 85, then took a lengthy, seated popemobile ride around St. Peter’s Square and the boulevard leading to it to greet some of the tens of thousands of people who came out to celebrate the Catholic Church’s newest saints. They include a Dutch priest-journalist who was killed by the Nazis, a lay Indian convert who was killed for his faith and a halfdozen French and Italian priests and nuns who founded religious orders.
Francis told the crowd of more than 45,000 that the 10 embodied holiness in everyday life, and said the church needs to embrace this idea rather than an unattainable ideal of personal achievement.
“Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love,” he said from his chair on the altar.
Francis has been complaining of strained ligaments in his right knee for months, and has recently been seen using a wheelchair at public audiences. Sunday’s ceremony was evidence that Francis is still able to still walk, but appears to be taking it as easy as possible to let the ligaments heal before an intense period of travel starting in July: The Vatican has confirmed two trips that month, one to Congo and South Sudan and one to Canada.
It was the first canonization Mass at the Vatican since before the coronavirus pandemic and, aside from Easter celebrations last month, drew one of the biggest crowds in recent times.
The Italian president, Dutch foreign minister, French interior minister and the minister for minorities of India, as well as tens of thousands of faithful packed the sunny piazza.