VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday declared the 16th-century Jesuit Pierre Favre a saint, bypassing the Vatican's typical saint-making procedures to honor the first recruit of Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola.
The announcement was made on Francis' 77th birthday.
Favre, who lived from 1506 to 1546, met Ignatius while the two were college roommates in Paris along with another future Jesuit, Francis Xavier. Favre later was ordained and spent most of his ministry preaching Catholicism in Germany and elsewhere during the Protestant Reformation.
The first Jesuit pope recently spoke about the importance Favre had in his life, in particular his message of dialogue with anyone, "even the most remote and even with his opponents."
In an interview with the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, Francis cited Favre's "simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving."
In September, Francis bypassed typical Vatican procedures to unilaterally declare another saint, Pope John XXIII. Francis decreed that John would be canonized along with Pope John Paul II on April 27 even though the Vatican hadn't confirmed a second miracle attributed to John's intercession.
In Favre's case, Francis was believed to be relying on a rarely used "equivalent canonization" process. With it, popes can declare that someone who has enjoyed widespread reverence over time deserves veneration by the universal church without having to go through the Vatican's typical procedures, which include ascertaining two miracles attributed to the candidate's intercession.
The Vatican announcement said that Francis had extended to the universal church the veneration to Favre and had inscribed him in the catalogue of saints.
Then-Pope Benedict XVI used the procedure in his pontificate to declare Hildegard of Bingen a saint. He did so, and later made her a doctor of the church, after having referred to her in a catechism lesson as a saint, even though she had never been canonized.
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