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Swedish nurse Hesselblad slated for sainthood

Published onsdag 16 december 2015 kl 14.12
A portrait of Maria Elisabeth Hesseblad, who was born in Fåglavik, Sweden, on June 4, 1870, and died on April 24, 1957, in Rome.  (AP Photo/HO) Code: 433 COPYRIGHT SCANPIX SWEDEN
A portrait of Maria Elisabeth Hesseblad, who was born in Fåglavik, Sweden, on June 4, 1870, and died on April 24, 1957, in Rome. (AP Photo/HO) Code: 433 COPYRIGHT SCANPIX SWEDEN

Pope Francis has issued a decree to canonize Elisabeth Hesselblad, a Swedish nurse who lived from 1870 until 1957, according to Vatican Radio on Wednesday.

Once Hesselblad, who was beatified in 2000 by John Paul II, is officially canonized, she will become Sweden's second-ever Catholic saint.

In a press release, Anders Arborelius, Bishop for the Catholic Church in Sweden, wrote that Hesselblad was "a role model of concrete compassion. During the German occupation of Rome, she hid several Jews in a cloister at Piazza Farnese and arranged a provisional synagogue. The state of Israel has recognized her - as one of few Swedes - with the honor Righteous Among the Nations."

Hesselblad worked as a nurse in the US when she converted to Catholicism. She also established branches of the Bridgettines, a monastic order of nuns originally founded by the Swedish Saint Birgitta, in Rome; Djursholm and Falun, Sweden; and Åbo, Finland, along with a number of other cities in the world.

She also worked to reform the Bridgettines with an emphasis on contemplation, charity for the needy, and Christian unity, according to news agency TT.

The exact date of her canonization has not yet been set.

The last time a Swede was canonized was in 1391, with Saint Birgitta.

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