June 4 was Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad’s birthday, and the very next day in Vatican City, Pope Francis proclaimed her a saint: On June 5, Elizabeth Hesselblad, who died in Rome in 1957 at age 87, was canonized as a saint at a mass in St. Peter’s Square. Two miracles are needed to achieve full sainthood, and St. Elizabeth’s miracles were originally recognized by Pope John Paul II who beatified her in 2000. The otherwise unexplained healing of a woman was believed to be Hesselblad's work as was the healing of a Cuban boy who had a brain tumor.

That boy — who is now a grown man — carried Hesselblad’s relics in the canonization ceremony, which took place at 11 a.m. before thousands of spectators. Relatives were also in attendance, as were the Swedish archbishop and Sweden’s minister of culture and democracy.
Hesselblad has also posthumously received the "Righteous Among the Nations" award by the State of Israel for her efforts to protect Jews in a convent in Rome during World War II. Read more on the life and work of Elisabeth Hesselblad.


A Polish priest was also sainted in the June 5 canonization ceremony. The two new saints "stayed tightly linked to the passion of Christ," the Pope said. He is scheduled to travel to both Poland and Sweden this year; he’ll be in Sweden in October to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.