Pope clears the way for the canonization of Canadian blessed

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis signed a decree clearing the way for the canonization of Canada-born Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis, founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

He also recognized the martyrdom of Polish Father Michal Rapacz, who had been kidnapped and killed by a group of armed men in 1946 during the communist government's anti-religious campaign. He can now be beatified.

After Pope Francis met Jan. 24 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican published a list of decrees the pope approved regarding six sainthood causes.

The miracle the pope recognized in the cause of Blessed Paradis, according to the dicastery's website, involved the healing of a newborn baby girl who suffered from "prolonged perinatal asphyxia with multi-organ failure and encephalopathy" during her birth in 1986 at a hospital in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Today the young woman is a language teacher.

Born Virginie Alodie Paradis in L'Acadie, Quebec, in 1840, the future saint entered the convent of the Marianites of Holy Cross, the female branch of the Congregation of Holy Cross, in Saint-Laurent and was named Sister Marie-de-Sainte-Léonie.

She taught in and around Montreal until 1862, then went to St. Vincent de Paul's Orphanage in New York City for eight years and then moved to the community of the Holy Cross Sisters in Indiana in 1870.

After 12 years in the United States, she went to Memramcook, New Brunswick, where she eventually founded the Little Sisters of the Holy Family in 1880 to collaborate with and support the religious of Holy Cross in educational work.

Today the sisters work in more than 200 institutions of education and evangelization in Canada, the United States, Italy, Brazil, Haiti, Chile, Honduras and Guatemala.

The other decrees approved by Pope Francis Jan. 24 recognized:

-- The martyrdom of Father Rapacz, who was born in 1904 and was killed "in hatred of the faith" in 1946 near Ploki.

-- The heroic virtues of Bishop Cyrille Jean Zohrabian, who was born to an Armenian family in Erzurum, Turkey, in 1881 and became a Capuchin priest in 1904. He was in Istanbul during the Armenian genocide which decimated his entire family in 1915. He was arrested, tortured, sentenced to death, but then expelled in 1923 from Istanbul to Greece where he ministered to Armenians. He served as auxiliary bishop of Cilicia, Lebanon, from 1940 to 1954 and died in Rome in 1972.

-- The heroic virtues of Father Sebastián Gili Vives, founder of a religious congregation associated with the Augustinians. He was born in Spain in 1811 and died in 1894.

-- The heroic virtues of Capuchin Father Gianfranco Chiti, who was born in Italy in 1921. He served in the Italian army for decades reaching the rank of general. He became a Capuchin priest in 1982 and died in Rome in 2004.

-- The heroic virtues of Italian Sister Maddalena Volpato, a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Church. She was born in 1918 and died in Venice in 1946 at the age of 27.