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A look at new saints canonized by Pope Francis

Sunday - 5/12/2013, 9:10pm  ET

The tapestry of Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya of Colombia hangs from a balcony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican prior to the start of the canonization ceremony led by Pope Francis Sunday, May 12, 2013. The pontiff will canonize, Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya, Antonio Primaldo and his companions, also known as the Martyrs of Otranto, and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala of Mexico in a ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has made hundreds of new saints at his first canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square. Here is a look at the people receiving the Catholic Church's highest honor:

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ANTONIO PEZZULLA AND 812 FELLOW MARTYRS

In 1480, some 20,000 Turkish troops overran the citadel of Otranto in what is now the southeastern Puglia region of Italy, in the "heel" of the boot-shaped peninsula. The invaders demanded that the locals, including many who took refuge in the city's cathedral, convert to Islam. The Turks took 813 men from among those refusing to convert.

Pezzulla, also known as Primaldo, was the group's leader, and the first among the martyrs to be beheaded. They are referred to as "The martyrs of Otranto."

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LAURA OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA MONTOYA Y UPEGUI

Colombia's first saint, also known as Mother Laura Montoya and born in 1874, worked as a teacher and spiritual mother to Colombia's indigenous peoples.

In 1914, she and five other women set out on horseback into forests for their mission. They made up the core of a new religious order, the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin, who today work in 21 nations. She died in 1949.

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MARIA GUADALUPE GARCIA ZAVALA

Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala was a Mexican woman, born in 1878, who decided at 22 to dedicate herself to helping the sick. Her religious mission played out during a period of tension between church and state, when tens of thousands of people were killed during a 1926-1929 uprising by Roman Catholic rebels against anti-clerical laws.

She helped Catholics avoid persecution during a government crackdown on the faith, including hiding the archbishop of Guadalajara in an eye clinic for 1 1/2 years after fearful local Catholic families refused to shelter him.

Also known as Mother Lupita, she co-founded an order of nuns, the Congregation of the Servants of St. Margaret Maria and of the Poor. She died in 1963.


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