VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis declared 35 new saints on Sunday, nearly all of them martyrs drawn from the bloody history of Catholicism’s spread in Latin America, reports AFP.
Before a crowd of some 35,000 in St Peter’s square, the pontiff carried out the rite of canonisation for 30 martyrs massacred in Brazil in the 17th century.
The two priests and 28 lay people were slaughtered by Dutch Calvinists and indigenous people in 1645, and in some cases had their hearts torn from their chests after being tortured and mutilated.
Catholicism’s spread in southern Brazil started at the very end of the 1500s with Jesuit missionaries and priests from Portugal, but the arrival of Calvinists in the coming decades meant persecution for Catholics.
The new saints also included three teens slain in 16th-century Mexico due to their embrace of Catholicism. One of them, who had attempted to convert his father, was beaten to death by him.