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Vatican cardinal explains why Pope Francis canonized St. Angela of Foligno

Catholic World News - January 07, 2014

In an interview published in L’Osservatore Romano, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints discussed why Pope Francis canonized St. Angela of Foligno (1248-1309) in October. St. Angela, a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, was beatified in 1701.

Pope Francis declared her a saint by “equivalent canonization.” In equivalent canonization – a procedure described by Pope Benedict XIV in the eighteenth century – the Pope waives the usual judicial process and declares that a blessed’s liturgical cult is extended to the universal Church. Pope Benedict canonized St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) by equivalent canonization in 2012, and Pope Francis also canonized St. Peter Faber by equivalent canonization in December.

“Equivalent canonization, though not frequent, is not rare in the Church,” Cardinal Angelo Amato had said in a December interview. “The best known are Gregory VII, Gertrude of Helfta, Peter Damian, Cyril and Methodius, John Damascene, the Venerable Bede, Albert the Great, Thomas More, John of Avila.”

In a new interview, Cardinal Angelo Amato said that St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, Pope Benedict XIV, Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet all held St. Angela of Foligno in high esteem. In the 1940s, various French bishops petitioned for her canonization.

In 1983, Cardinal Amato continued, Blessed John Paul II used her writings as meditations during the Via Crucis in the Colosseum on Good Friday, and in 1993, he called her “teacher of theologians” during a homily. Later that day, as he prayed before her relics, he continued to praise her – prompting a petition for her canonization from her religious community.

In 2010, Pope Benedict devoted a general audience to Blessed Angela of Foligno, renewing interest in her. During the audience, he referred to her as a saint – a reference that is clearer in the original Italian (“la vita di santa Angela”) than in the official English translation (“Blessed Angela’s life”).

Following Pope Benedict’s equivalent canonization of St. Hildegard in May 2012, the superiors of five Franciscan communities petitioned him to canonized St. Angela. In December 2012, Pope Benedict authorized the preparation of the necessary documentation.

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