Pope Francis Wednesday advanced the sainthood causes of five men and women, including an Italian teenager who died of a brain tumor in 2009, declaring them “venerable.”
After a May 5 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope approved the heroic virtue of Italian priests Francesco Caruso (1879-1951) and Carmelo De Palma (1876-1961), as well as the Spanish Redemptorist priest Francisco Barrecheguren Montagut (1881-1957).
Before becoming a priest, Barrecheguren Montagut was married (he was later widowed) and had a daughter, Maria de la Concepción Barrecheguren García (1905-1927), who was also declared venerable by the pope May 6.
The fifth sainthood cause to move a step toward canonization was that of Italian teenager Matteo Farina, who lived from 1990 to 2009.
Farina grew up in a strong Christian family in the southern Italian town of Brindisi. He was very close to his sister, Erika.
The parish where he received the sacraments was under the care of Capuchin friars, from whom he gained a devotion to St. Francis and St. Padre Pio.
The postulator of Farina’s cause for sainthood said that from a young age Farina had the desire to learn new things, always undertaking his activities with diligence, whether it was school or sports or his passion for music.
Starting at eight years old, he would receive the sacrament of reconciliation often. He was also devoted to the Word of God. At nine years old, he read the entire Gospel of St. Matthew as a Lenten practice. Farina also prayed the rosary every day.
When he was nine years old, he had a dream in which he heard St. Padre Pio tell him that if he understood that “who is without sin is happy,” he must help others to understand this, “so that we can all go together, happy, to the kingdom of heaven.”
From that point onward, Farina felt a strong desire to evangelize, especially among his peers, which he did politely and without presumption.
He once wrote about this desire, saying “I hope to succeed in my mission to ‘infiltrate’ among young people, speaking to them about God (illuminated by God himself); I observe those around me, to enter among them as silent as a virus and infect them with an incurable disease, Love!”
In September 2003, a month before his 13th birthday, Farina began to have symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as a brain tumor. As he was undergoing medical tests, he began to keep a journal. He called the experience of the bad headaches and pain “one of those adventures that change your life and that of others. It helps you to be stronger and to grow, above all in faith.”
Over the next six years, Farina would experience several brain operations and undergo chemotherapy and other treatments for the tumor.
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