Thousands gather for beatification of Romanian prince helper of sick, died in communist jail

Thousands have gathered for the beatification of a Romanian prince who spent decades traveling around the world helping the sick and the poor and died after being tortured in a Communist prison.

Pope Francis approved the beatification in March of Monsignor Vladimir Ghika who was declared a martyr for his Christian faith.

Born into a family of Moldovan nobles in 1873, Ghika converted to Catholicism in 1902. He spent his life helping victims of cholera, tuberculosis and earthquakes.

When the communists came to power, Ghika refused to leave Romania. He was convicted of treason, denounced as "a spy for the Vatican" and died in prison in 1954.

Thousands attended a service Saturday and Prime Minister Victor Ponta called Ghika "a great European spirit who refused to compromise with totalitarianism."