Pope Francis names 35 new saints to Catholic Church

Pope Francis has proclaimed 35 new saints to the Catholic Church - most of them martyrs who endured persecution from the past centuries - during Mass at St. Peter's Square on Oct. 15.

(REUTERS / Giampiero Sposito)Pope Francis speaks as he leads the Chrism mass in Saint Peter's basilica at the Vatican April 2, 2015.

Around 35,000 Christians gathered at St. Peter's Square on Sunday when Pope Francis named the 35 new saints of the Catholic Church. Thirty of them were persecuted by Dutch Calvinists in Brazil in 1645, while three were indigenous children who were killed in the 1520s for refusing to reject their faith in Mexico, The Associated Press reported.

On Oct. 10, Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of nine men and women who fought for the land rights of Guatemalan farmers. In an audience with the Congregation for the Saints' Causes prefect Cardinal Angelo Amato, the pontiff also advanced the sainthood cause of Franciscan priest Tullio Merluzzo even without a miracle attributed to him, Crux detailed.

Father Merluzzo was born in Italy in 1929 and was sent to Guatemala seven years after he was ordained. There, he pastored a number of parishes and helped run schools and hospitals. During the civil war from 1960 to 1996, priests and other religious individuals in the country were targeted by the government in its efforts against leftist rebels.

Merluzzo drew the ire of the local military when he tried to help farmers reclaim the land they were forced to leave. He was accused of collaborating with rebels and was murdered with a Guatemalan layman named Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro while they were on their way back from a catechism class on July 1, 1981.

Pope Francis also signed decrees recognizing the heroism of Brazilian Father Donizetti Taveres de Lima who served the poor and the sick. He likewise acknowledged Polish Sister Elizabeth Rose Czacka's dedication to helping the blind despite the fact that she also could not see.