Switzerland gets a new saint

Marguerite Bays lived in a farming community in the nineteenth century and was characterized by piety from an early age. Keystone

Swiss seamstress Marguerite Bays, who lived from 1815 to 1879, is among five new saints who have been canonized by Pope Francis in Rome.

This content was published on October 13, 2019 - 11:42

Speaking to a crowd of some 50,000 faithful, the Pope said her life showed the power of "simple prayer".

Several hundred pilgrims and representatives of the Swiss Catholic Church travelled to Rome for the ceremony, as did Swiss justice minister Karin Keller-Sutter.

Marguerite Bays had already been beatified (recognized as one of the “blessed”) in 1995 by Pope John Paul II for a miracle that is said to have happened in the 1940s when a man trapped in a climbing accident called on her and was miraculously saved. In January, the Vatican recognized a second miracle related to her intercession, opening the door to her canonization.

The new saint was born on September 8, 1815 in La Pierraz, in the western Swiss canton of Fribourg, and was characterized by a special piety at an early age. She joined the Third Order of Franciscan Sisters, a Christian community that follows a religious rule but does not live monastically.

Bays was known by for her virtues and her care for the sick and poor. She is said to have been miraculously cured of cancer herself, and to have carried the stigmata of Christ.

She is the first lay Swiss woman to be canonized. Other Swiss saints are Nicolas de Flue, who became a saint in 1947, and the Aargau nun Maria Bernarda Bütler, who was canonized in 2008.

The four other saints canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday are English Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and three nuns: the Italian Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911), the Indian Maria Teresa Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926) and the Brazilian Dulce Lopes Pontes (1914-1992).

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