Pope Francis has canonized Argentina's "gaucho priest," the poncho-wearing, mate-sipping pastor who rode his mule Malacara to the far-flung Argentine peripheries to minister to the poor.

The pope canonized Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero on Sunday along with six others in one of the final big Masses of his Holy Year of Mercy.

Born in 1849 in the province of Cordoba, Brochero 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, history's first Argentine pope, moved Brochero closer to sainthood soon after being elected pope in 2013.