By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has moved six candidates for sainthood closer to canonization.

In a meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, the pope signed decrees Feb. 23 recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of an Italian religious sister and the heroic virtues of five others: two laywomen, two priests and a religious woman.

The process for being proclaimed a saint includes a study of the candidate’s life and writings to determine whether he or she lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way. A miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is required for beatification and another miracle is needed for canonization.

With the pope’s recognition of a miracle through her intercession, a beatification ceremony can be planned for Sister Elisabetta Martinez, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Mary of Leuca. The Italian, who lived 1905-1991, founded the congregation to care for young children and single mothers. The miracle reportedly involved saving a fetus experiencing blood clots and other complications; the baby was born in good condition in 2018.

Five other candidates for sainthood will become “venerable” after Pope Francis recognized their heroic virtues:

  • Francisca Alcover Morell, a Spanish writer and laywoman, defended the church in newspapers during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, penning nearly 600 articles on Catholic teaching before her death in 1954.
  • Italian lay woman Albertina Violi Zirondoli was a schoolteacher who educated young women in post-war Italy to give them better work opportunities. She was deeply involved in the Focolare movement and instilled Christian values in her children despite resistance from her husband. She died in Rome in 1972.
  • Capuchin Father Giulio Bocci, also known as Father Giuseppe di Sant’Elpidio, was an Italian priest passionate about helping others discover their vocation. He founded the Franciscan Volunteer Sisters for Vocations institute in Pesaro, Italy, and died in 1974.
  • Brazilian Sacred Heart Father Aloísio Sebastiao Boeing died in 2006. He was a longtime spiritual director in his congregation’s novitiate as well as for many priests and founded the Marian Fraternity of the Heart of Jesus for consecrated religious and lay women to live the Gospel in the reality of the world.
  • Ursuline Sister Maria Margherita Lussana, who died in 1935, co-founded the Congregation of Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart and opened a boarding school which allowed poor girls to attend for free and took in orphans.