Pope Gives Catholic Church Hundreds of New Saints
Frances D'emilio - Associated Press
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May 12, 2013

Pope Francis canonizes the first Colombian saint and the second female saint for Mexico, as well as some 800 Italians killed by Ottoman Turks in the 15th century when they refused to convert to Islam. (vatican)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday gave the Catholic church new saints, including hundreds of 15th-century martyrs who were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, as he led his first canonization ceremony in a packed St. Peter's Square.

The "Martyrs of Otranto" were 813 Italians who were slain in the southern Italian city in 1480 for defying demands by Turkish invaders who overran the citadel to renounce Christianity.

Their approval for sainthood was decided upon by Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, in a decree read at the ceremony in February where the former pontiff announced his retirement.

... The first pontiff from South America also gave Colombia its first saint: a nun who toiled as a teacher and spiritual guide to indigenous people in the 20th century.

... He also canonized another Latin American woman. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, a Mexican who dedicated herself to nursing the sick, helped Catholics avoid persecution during a government crackdown of the faith in the 1920s.

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