Pope Francis Canonizes First Female Saint from Argentina
Argentine President Attends Canonization Mass
Pope Francis led a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, also known as “Mama Antula”, the first female saint from Argentina. Mama Antula was an 18th-century lay woman who dedicated her life to charity and Jesuit spiritual exercises, renouncing her family’s wealth in the process.
President’s Surprising Presence
In a surprising turn of events, the Argentine President, Javier Milei, was in attendance at the service and even had the opportunity to exchange a few words with the pope at the conclusion of the Mass. This unexpected encounter comes after Milei, a former fierce critic of Francis, softened his tone since taking office in December.
Challenges Faced by Argentina
The canonization ceremony took place amidst Argentina’s worst economic crisis in decades, with inflation soaring over 200%. Additionally, President Milei is currently grappling with parliamentary rejection of a major reform package, adding to the country’s challenges.
Hopes for Productive Dialogue
Despite their past differences, Milei expressed optimism for a fruitful dialogue with the pope and even expressed hopes for Francis to visit Argentina in the near future. This sentiment is a stark contrast to Milei’s previous strongly worded comments about the pontiff.
Legacy of Mama Antula
Mama Antula, the daughter of a wealthy landowner and slave owner, was a trailblazer in promoting spiritual exercises and involving people from all walks of life, regardless of social status. Pope Francis described her as a “gift to the Argentine people and also to the entire Church,” emphasizing her impact on society.
Emphasis on Caring for the Vulnerable
During the Mass, Pope Francis reiterated the importance of caring for the poor and marginalized, condemning the “radical individualism” that plagues society. His words, resonating with Mama Antula’s legacy, emphasized the need to address the plight of the weak and vulnerable in society.