VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis on Tuesday declared the 16th-century Jesuit Pierre Favre a saint, bypassing the Vatican's typical saint-making procedures to honor the first recruit of Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola.
The announcement was made on Francis' 77th birthday.
Favre, who lived from 1506 to 1546, met Ignatius while the two were college roommates in Paris along with another future Jesuit, Francis Xavier. Favre later was ordained and spent most of his ministry preaching Catholicism in Germany and elsewhere during the Protestant Reformation.
The first Jesuit pope recently spoke about the importance Favre had in his life, in particular his message of dialogue with anyone, "even the most remote and even with his opponents."
In an interview with the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, Francis cited Favre's "simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving."
In September, Francis bypassed typical Vatican procedures to unilaterally declare another saint, Pope John XXIII. Francis decreed that John would be canonized along with Pope John Paul II on April 27 even though the Vatican hadn't confirmed a second miracle attributed to John's intercession.