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Pope Francis canonizes 2 Indians and 4 Italians who dedicated their lives to the poor

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis canonized six new saints Sunday, including a priest and a nun from the Indian state of Kerala, in a packed ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

The pope said the new saints, four Italians from far-flung provinces and two Indians from the Syro-Malabar Church, one of 22 Eastern rite churches that operates in full communion with Rome, provided examples of service to "the smallest and the poorest."

"They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims," Francis told the crowd.

Some 5,000 faithful traveled from Kerala state for the solemn event, which was also streamed live onto screens set up outside churches in the southern region of India.

PHOTO: An Indian flag is waved by faithful prior to the start of the Beatification mass of Eufrasia Eluvathingal, Amato Ronconi, Antonio Farina, Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Nicola Saggio da Longobardi and Amato Ronconi celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
An Indian flag is waved by faithful prior to the start of the Beatification mass of Eufrasia Eluvathingal, Amato Ronconi, Antonio Farina, Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Nicola Saggio da Longobardi and Amato Ronconi celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

"Today is a big day for Indian people, especially for Indian people coming from Kerala," said Elsy Chandy Plammoottil, a pilgrim from Kerala. "We got two saints: Eufrasia Eluvathingal and Kuriakose Elias Chavara. They are very important people for us."

The Rev. Chavara, who lived in the 19th century, contributed to the expansion of the Syro-Malabar Church, including setting up printing presses. Eluvathingal, born in 1877 and baptized Rose, led a secluded life of prayer, becoming known as a "praying mother."

The pope expressed hope that the four Italian saints, born in the provinces of Vicenza in the north, Naples in the south, Rimini on the Adriatic coast, and Cosenza near the tip of the Italian boot, would help "revive the spirit of cooperation and harmony for the common good."

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Colleen Barry contributed from Milan.

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PHOTO: Cardboard cutouts of sister  Eufrasia Eluvathingal, top left, and priest Elias Chavara, right, stand among Indian faithful at the end of their Canonization mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. Pope Francis has canonized six new saints, including a priest and a nun from the Indian state of Kerala, in a packed ceremony in St. Peter's Square. The pope offered prayers Sunday for the saints, four Italians from disparate regions and two Indians from the Syro-Malabar Church, one of 22 Eastern rite churches that operates in full communion with Rome. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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