On Saturday, Pope Francis advanced the causes of eight candidates for sainthood, one of which is a distant relative of Princess Diana and Winston Churchill.

Pope Francis recognized the “heroic virtues” of George Spencer, an English Passionist priest who lived from 1799 to 1864, taking the name Ignatius of Saint Paul when he left the Anglican church.

Spencer was Princess Diana’s great-great-great-uncle and also great-uncle to Winston Churchill, according to the Roman Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury. He grew up on the Spencer ancestral estate in Althorp where Diana is buried.

Read the Vatican’s official biography of Ignatius of Saint Paul below:

“Servant of God Ignatius of Saint Paul, an English Passionist priest. He was born George Spencer on 21 December 1799 in London, a son of the 2nd Earl Spencer.

He converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 1830 in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood in 1832. In 1847 he entered the Passionist Order. On the death in 1849 of Blessed Dominic Barberi, Father Ignatius became Provincial of the Passionist Congregation in England and Belgium.

Father Ignatius spent much of his life working for the conversion of England to the Catholic faith. He died in Carstairs, Scotland, on 1 October 1864, and was buried alongside his predecessor Father Barberi. With the approval of his heroic virtues, Father Ignatius of Saint Paul will now have the title Servant of God.”

Pope Francis also recognized a miracle attributed to an Italian laywoman, along with the heroic virtues of six others:

Italian laywoman, the Venerable Servant of God Armida Barelli, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. She was born on 1 December 1882 in Milan, and died in Marzio, Italy on 15 August 1952.

While studying at a boarding school under the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Cross from 1895 to 1900, she discovered her religious vocation and the Franciscan charism. Refusing several marriage proposals, she decided to devote herself to others, especially the poor and the orphaned. Together with Father Agostino Gemelli, OFM, she co-founded the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ, which today has more than 2,200 members in more than 30 countries around the world.

– Servant of God Albino Alves da Cunha Silva, diocesan priest, born on 22 September 1882 in Codeçôso, Portugal, and died in Catanduva, Brazil, on 19 September 1973.

– Servant of God Maria Felicita Fortunata Baseggio (nee Anna Clara Giovanna), a nun of the Order of St. Augustine. She was born on 5 May 1752 in Ferrara, Italy, and died in Rovigo, Italy, on 11 February 1829.

– Servant of God Floralba Rondi (nee Luigia Rosina), a professed member of the Congregation of the Poverelle Sisters. She was born on 10 December 1924 in Pedrengo, Italy, and died in Mosango, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 25 April 1995.

– Servant of God Clarangela Ghilardi (nee Alessandra), a member of the Congregation of the Poverelle Sisters. Born on 21 April 1931 in Trescore Balneario, Italy, she died in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 6 May 1995.

– Servant of God Dinarosa Belleri (nee Teresa Santa), a member of the Congregation of the Poverelle Sisters. Born on 11 November 1936 in Cailina di Villa Carcina, Italy, she died in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 14 May 1995.

– Servant of God Elisa Giambelluca, a lay member of the Teresian Institution. She was born on 30 April 1941 in Isnello, Italy, and died in Rome on 5 July 1986.

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  1. Discernment and a sense of right and wrong, good and bad were powerful tools in the armory of holy people. Long live the memory of their inspiring lives.


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