Pope John Paul II named six new saints Sunday, including a woman who became a symbol for abortion opponents because she refused to end her pregnancy despite warnings that it could kill her.
The Vatican has long championed the case of Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian pediatrician who died in 1962 at the age of 39 — a week after giving birth to her fourth child.
Doctors had told her it was dangerous to proceed with the pregnancy because she had a tumor in her uterus, but she insisted on carrying the baby to term.
In proclaiming her a saint, John Paul praised her “extreme sacrifice” and her simple but profound message.
“May our era rediscover, by the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, the pure, chaste and fertile beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine calling,” he said.
John Paul also praised the examples of the five other people canonized Sunday, including two Italian priests and a Spanish monk who founded religious orders, a Lebanese Maronite priest and a wealthy Italian widow who opened her homes to abandoned children.