Francis told the crowd that the martyrs are a source of inspiration, especially for “so many Christians, who, right in these times and in so many parts of the world, still suffer violence.”
He prayed that they receive “the courage of loyalty and to respond to evil with good.”
The pope didn’t single out any country. But Christian churches have been attacked in Nigeria and Iraq, and Catholics in China loyal to the Vatican have been subject to harassment and sometimes jail over the last decades.
Christians in Saudi Arabia must worship out of the public eye because the ultraconservative kingdom does not officially permit churches and non-Muslim religious sites.
Francis, the first pope from the Jesuit order, which is known for its missionary zeal, praised the Colombian saint for “instilling hope” in the indigenous people. He said she taught them in a way that “respected their culture.”
Many Catholic missionaries over the centuries have been criticized for demanding natives renounce local traditions the outsiders viewed as primitive.
The pope also hailed the Mexican saint for renouncing a comfortable life to work with the sick and poor, even kneeling on the bare floor of the hospital before the patients to serve them with “tenderness and compassion.”
Mother Lupita’s example, said Francis, should encourage people not to “get wrapped up in themselves, their own problems, their own ideas, their own interests, but to go out and meet those who need attention, comprehension, help” and other assistance.
After shaking hands with the prelates and VIPs in the front rows at the end of the Mass, Francis shed his ceremonial vestments. Wearing a plain white cassock, he climbed into an open white popemobile to ride up and down the security paths surrounding the crowd of more than 60,000.
He stopped to pat children on the head, kiss babies and bantered in his native Spanish with some at the edge of the crowd.