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U.S. Immigrants' Priest Beatified

April 22, 2000|Religion News Service

Pope John Paul II has beatified a Bavarian-born priest who ministered to immigrants on the East Coast of the United States during the 19th century.

The Rev. Francis Xavier Seelos, a member of the Redemptorist order, was one of five candidates for sainthood--two priests and three nuns--whom the pope proclaimed blessed during a special Jubilee Holy Year Mass on April 9 in St. Peter's Square.

John Paul has now beatified a record 1,791 people during his more than 21 years as Roman Catholic pontiff. Beatification is the last step before sainthood.

Seelos worked as a missionary for 23 years among German and Irish immigrants in Baltimore, Cumberland and Annapolis, Md., Pittsburgh, Detroit and New Orleans, where he died in 1867 at the age of 48 in a yellow fever epidemic.

Also beatified were:

* Anna Rosa Battorno, who founded the Daughters of St. Anna in 1866 to work among young people in the northern Italian city of Piacenza.

* Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan, who founded the Congregation of the Holy Family in 1914 to work among the poor in India and is considered a precursor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

* Mary Elizabeth Hesselbad, who was born a Lutheran in Sweden, became a Catholic while working as a nurse in New York, reconstituted the Order of St. Bridget in 1911 and became a pioneer of ecumenism.

* The Rev. Mariano di Gesu, a Colombian priest.

About 40,000 pilgrims gathered on a cool, gray morning for the Mass, which the pope concelebrated with 39 prelates, including Cardinals Dionigi Tettamanzi of Genoa and Camillo Ruini of Rome.

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