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Poncho-wearing Argentine pastor Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero canonised

The tapestries of seven new saints hang from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica during a Canonization Mass by Pope Francis on Sunday. Picture by Andrew Medichini, Associated Press
John Monaghan

POPE Francis has canonised Argentina's "gaucho priest", the poncho-wearing pastor who rode his mule to far-flung parts of the country to minister to the poor.

Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, who was said to have inspired the pontiff, was recognised on Sunday along with six others in one of the final big Masses of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Jose Sanchez del Río, and Salomone Leclercq, who both died for their faith, and contemplative Carmelite nun Elizabeth of the Trinity were also canonised.

Three people who went on to found religious congregrations - Alfonso Maria Fusco, Lodovico Pavoni, and Manuel Gonzalez Garcia - were also made saints.

Brochero, born in 1849 in the province of Cordoba, was one of the most famous Catholics in the Argentina of Francis' youth.

He died in 1914 after living for years with leprosy that he was said to have contracted from one of his faithful.

Francis, the first ever Argentine pope, moved Brochero closer to sainthood soon after being elected pope in 2013.

The portraits of the new saints were on display at Saint Peter's Basilica, where the Pope blessed seven relics of each of the saints at a ceremony attended by around 70,000 people.

"The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer. They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph," he said.

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