Pope Names Native American Saint
A Native American and six others have been named as saints by Pope Benedict XVI at the start of a new drive to deepen the faith of believers.
The pontiff named the seven at a ceremony in St Peter's Square at the start of a "Year of Faith", BBC reported.
Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived in the 17th Century, impressed missionaries with her deep spirituality.
The other new saints include a nun who tended a Hawaiian leper colony and a French missionary killed in Madagascar.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a saint is a person who has been recognized officially as being in Heaven.
In recent a years a miraculous intervention has been ascribed to Miss Tekakwitha, who was born in what is now New York State and died in what is now Canada.
The Vatican believes she saved the life of a Native American child who was being ravaged by a flesh-eating bacterium.
This, the Church decided, was the final miracle required to qualify her for sainthood.
It is also felt that her elevation would give Native American Catholics an important boost, reports the BBC's Alan Johnston, in Rome.
Miss Tekakwitha, who is sometimes known today as Lily Of The Mohawks, died at the age of 24.
The other figures who became saints on Sunday are:
German-born Franciscan nun Maria Anna Cope who is known as Mother Marianne Of Molokai because she looked after lepers on the island of Molokai in the Hawaii archipelago
French Jesuit Jacques Berthieu, who was executed by rebels in 1896 in Madagascar
The Philippines' Pedro Calungsod, a young seminarian who was killed on the island of Guam when he visited with a Jesuit priest to baptise a young girl
German lay preacher Maria Schaeffer, who died in 1925
Italian priest Giovanni Battista Piamarta, who in the late 19th Century devoted his life to helping young people during the industrial revolution and founded a religious congregation
Spanish nun Maria del Carmen, who also founded a congregation and worked to better the lot of poor women in the 19th Century