VATICAN CITY, APR. 29, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II today beatified five men and women, including the first Puerto Rican so honored, and noted the importance of the Eucharist in building a life of sanctity.
The Holy Father has now overseen 1,232 beatifications and 477 canonizations in his 22-year pontificate -- more than half the total proclaimed in the entire history of the Church.
The new blessed allowed the "Holy Spirit to mold their life according to Christ," the Holy Father explained in his homily today.
About 30,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for today's beatification ceremony. The most enthusiastic were the Puerto Ricans, who saw a compatriot raised to the glory of the altars for the first time in the island's history.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago (1918-1963), a layman known as Charlie, worked in the Catholic University Center of the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. His process of beatification was one of the shortest in recent history, lasting only nine years.
The U.S. Navy announced a 24-hour suspension of its controversial training maneuvers in Vieques, Puerto Rico, as a sign of respect for the newly beatified native son.
This Puerto Rican "highlighted the universal call to sanctity for all Christians, and the importance for each baptized person to respond conscientiously and responsibly to it," the Pope said during the homily. "May his example help the whole Church in Puerto Rico to be faithful, living with firm consistency the Christian values and principles received during the Island's evangelization."
Another new blessed was Bishop Manuel González García of Malaga, Spain (1877-1940). Known as "the bishop of the abandoned tabernacle," he founded the Congregation of the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth, as well as associations such as the Disciples of St. John, for men, and a branch, Children of Reparation.
The Pope said Bishop González's experience of "an abandoned tabernacle marked him for life, dedicating himself from then on to propagate devotion to the Eucharist, and proclaiming the phrase, which he wanted to be on his epitaph: 'Jesus is there! He is there! Do not leave him abandoned!'" His example, the Holy Father added, "continues to speak to the Church today."
The remaining new blessed are nuns. Canadian Esther Blondin (1809-1890) took the name Marie-Anne when she made her vows. She is the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Anne.
"Model of a humble and hidden life, Marie-Anne Blondin found interior strength by contemplating the cross, showing us that the life of intimacy with Christ is the surest way to give fruits mysteriously and fulfill the mission willed by God," the Pope said.
Caterina Volpicelli (1839-1894), another religious newly beatified, was the founder of the Servants of the Sacred Heart.
"She also knew how to draw from the Eucharist that missionary zeal that led her to express her vocation in the Church, submitting with docility to pastors, and [being] prophetically oriented to the promotion of the laity and new forms of consecrated life," the Pope explained. "Although not establishing operational centers or giving life to specific institutions, as she herself stated, she wanted to find solitude in activity, and fruitful work in solitude."
The last new blessed of this Sunday is Caterina Cittadini (1801-1857), founder of the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca, who, as John Paul II said in his homily, "manifested indomitable love for the Lord."
"Left an orphan at a very tender age, she became an affectionate mother to orphans," the Holy Father said. "She wanted her spiritual daughters to be 'mothers' in schools and in contacts with children." In her case also, "the secret was union with the Eucharist," the Pontiff said.