VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis furthered the sainthood causes of seven men and women as well as recognized more than 100 martyrs who were killed during the Spanish civil war.
At a meeting Dec. 21 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed the decrees, which included recognizing a miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Faustino Miguez.
The Spanish priest, born in 1831, was a member Piarist Fathers. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys.
While he taught a variety of subjects and wrote numerous textbooks, he also honed an interest in botany, which led him to find a cure for a professor so ill that he was thought to be beyond hope. People then came from all parts of the country seeking relief from their sicknesses through the then-Father Miguez.
The pope also recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Sister Leopoldina Naudet, founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Verona. Born in Florence, Italy, in 1773, she dedicated herself to the education of women and included religious and moral values in school curricula. She died in 1834 and was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.
In other decrees signed at the Vatican Dec. 21, the pope:
• Recognized the martyrdom of Claretian Father Mateu Casals Mas, Claretian scholastic Teofilo Casajus Alduan, Claretian Brother Ferran Saperas Aluja and 106 companions killed "in hatred of the faith" between 1963 and 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.
• Recognized the heroic virtues of Isidoro Zorzano Ledesma, a lay member of Opus Dei born in Argentina in 1902. He died in Madrid in 1943.
• Recognized the heroic virtues of Father Jean Baptiste Fouque, a French priest who founded St. Joseph's Hospital in Marseille to care for anyone in need, without discrimination.
• Recognized the heroic virtues of Passionist Brother Lorenzo of the Holy Spirit, who served as a missionary in Brazil before returning to Italy, where he died in 1953.
• Recognized the heroic virtues of Spanish Sister Maria Rafaela of the Sacred Heart, foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary.
• Recognized the heroic virtues of Sister Clelia Merloni, foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She died in Rome in 1943.