VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II beatified six people Sunday, adding founders of religious orders and two teenage Ugandan missionary "martyrs" to the swelling ranks of those on the path to possible sainthood.
The pope praised the six as role models for Catholics, saying their faith, humbleness and willingness to die for their religion was a source of strength.
The beatification coincided with the Roman Catholic Church's celebration of World Missionary Day, and the ceremony in St. Peter's Square included traditional African and Indian religious dance and music.
Beatification is the last formal step before possible sainthood and requires evidence of one miracle after the person's death, except in the case of martyrs. Non-martyrs are canonized a saint after one more miracle is confirmed by the Vatican.
Among the six elevated Sunday were Ugandan teenagers Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa, who worked as missionaries in northern Uganda until they were killed in 1918.
"They are given to the entire Christian community as examples of holiness and virtue, and as models and intercessors for catechists throughout the world, especially in those places where catechists still suffer for their faith, sometimes facing social marginalization and even personal danger," the pope said.
Also beatified were: Bishop Andrea Giacinto Longhin, a Capucchin who was bishop of Treviso during World War I; the Rev. Marcantonio Durando, the Italian founder of the Nazareth Sisters order; Marie de la Passion, who was borne Helene Marie de Chappotin de Neuville and founded the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary; and Liduina Meneguzzi, a member of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Francis de Sales.
With the six elevated Sunday, John Paul has beatified 1,303 people and proclaimed 464 saints in the 24 years he has been pope.