Monday, October 17, 2016

Pope canonises 'gaucho priest' who had 'the smell of his sheep'

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Francis has canonised Argentina’s “gaucho priest,” bestowing sainthood on the poncho-wearing pastor with whom he shares many similarities, from a taste for mate tea to a dedication to bringing the ministry to isolated people, reports AP/CBS News.

Francis honoured Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero along with six others in a Mass yesterday before a crowd of 80,000 in St Peter’s Square, saying the new saints, “thanks to prayer, had generous and steadfast hearts.”

“The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray, and struggle in them,” the Pope said.

Also made into saints were two Italian priests, Lodovico Pavoni and Alfonso Maria Fusco, French martyr Salomone Leclercq, French nun Elisabeth of the Trinity, Spanish bishop Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, and Mexican layman Jose Sanchez del Rio.

St Jose Brochero, born in 1849 in the province of Cordoba, was one of the most famous Catholics in the Argentina of Francis’ youth. He died in 1914 after living for years with leprosy that he was said to have contracted from one of his faithful.

St Jose Brochero was beatified in 2013, after Pope Benedict XVI signed off on a miracle attributed to his intercession. Francis moved him closer to sainthood soon after being elected pope, and cleared him for sainthood earlier this year.

At the time of St Jose Brochero’s beatification, Francis wrote a letter to Argentina’s bishops praising him for having had the “smell of his sheep.” 

That’s a phrase Francis has frequently used to describe his ideal pastor: one who accompanies his flock, walking with them through life’s ups and downs.

“He never stayed in the parish office. He got on his mule and went out to find people like a priest of the street - to the point of getting leprosy,” Francis wrote.

A papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh, says St Jose Brochero exemplifies Francis’ idea of a priest.

Argentinians, many waving flags, made the journey to Rome to see their compatriot elevated to sainthood, including Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his wife.

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