Pope Beatifies Seven Thais, Italian Priest, French Nun
VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II on Sunday beatified an Italian priest-journalist, the French founder of an order of nuns, and seven Thais killed by police in 1940 for refusing to renounce Catholicism.
Beatification is a step toward possible sainthood.
The pontiff performed the beatifications during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Sunday also was the 11th anniversary of John Paul’s installation as pope, and two children presented him with flowers during the ceremony to mark the anniversary.
The seven Thais beatified were killed by local police in northeastern Thailand during a period in which Thailand was at war with French Indochina and authorities suppressed practices considered ″foreign,″ such as following Roman Catholicism.
They were Philip Siphong, a catechist and leader of the Catholic community in the village of Songkhon; two nuns, Sister Agnes Phila and Sister Lucia Khambang, both of whom taught school in Songkhon; Agatha Phutta, who helped in the kitchen of the mission at Songkhon; and three teen-agers from the village, Cecilia Butsi, 16, Bibiana Khamphai, 15, and Maria Phon, 14.
Also beatified was the Rev. Giuseppe Giaccardo, an Italian who became the first priest in the Society of St. Paul, which aims to spread Christianity through the media. Giaccardo was director of a Catholic newspaper in northern Italy for many years. He was named vicar general of the Society of St. Paul shortly before his death in 1948.
The pope also beatified a French nun, Marie de Jesus Deluil-Martiny of Marseilles, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus. She established convents in Belgium and France.
The nun was killed in 1884 by a convent gardener who turned against religion.