VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis held a Mass of thanksgiving alongside Quebec Cardinal Gerald Lacroix on Sunday for the canonization of two 17th-century missionaries who spread Roman Catholicism through what is today Canada.
Francis said in his homily that Saint Francis de Laval and Saint Marie of the Incarnation spread their faith "to the smallest and most remote." The two missionaries were elevated to sainthood in April.
The pope also welcomed Canadian pilgrims who had travelled to Rome during his traditional Sunday blessing in St. Peter's Square.
Saint Francis de Laval was the first bishop of New France and known for his work to defend members of First Nations from exploitation.
Saint Marie of the Incarnation was an Ursuline nun who founded a convent and school that provided equal education to the daughters of French settlers and members of First Nations.
Lacroix, who is Quebec's archbishop, said he's hopeful the canonization of the two saints will serve as a reminder of Canada's ties to Catholicism.
"When these two saints travelled from France to Nouvelle-France, with many other men and women, they were filled with a great desire to love the Lord, make him known to all people, and build a society on the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he said at a news conference.
"We continue to believe that this is a proposal that our modern world, and our post-modern world, needs to navigate in the troubled waters of our times."
- with files from The Associated Press