Swedish nun Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad canonised for saving Jews

image copyrightReuters
image captionSwedish Minister of Culture Alice Bah Kuhnke attended Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad's canonisation in the Vatican

A nun who saved Jewish families during World War Two has been made the first Swedish saint in more than 600 years.

Pope Francis canonised Roman Catholic convert Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad at a ceremony in St Peter's Square on Sunday.

Ms Hesselblad hid Jewish families in the convent in Rome where she was the mother superior.

The Pope also canonised Polish monk Stanislaus Papczynski for supporting the poor in the 17th Century.

He founded the first men's religious order dedicated to the Virgin Mary's immaculate conception.

Ms Hesselblad, a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism, is only the second Swede to become a saint, following Saint Bridget 625 years ago.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe canonisation ceremony was witnessed by a large crowd in St Peter's Square

A former nurse, she is credited with saving at least 12 Jews during the war, concealing families inside her Rome convent for about six months before the war ended.

She also won praise for promoting better relations between Catholics and non-Catholics and for encouraging both Christians and non-Christians towards the church.

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance centre honoured her as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in 2004, an award given to non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad died in Rome in 1957, aged 87.

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