Pope canonizes Brazilian monk during open-air mass

As many as one million people gathered in Sao Paulo Friday as Pope Benedict canonizes the country's first native-born saint.

As many as one million peoplegathered in Sao Paulo Friday as Pope Benedict canonized the country's first native-born saint.

Faithful hold pictures of Pope Benedict XVI, left, and of Antonio Galvao, known as Friar Galvao, an 18th-century Franciscan monk during his canonization mass in Sao Paulo on Friday. ((Dado Galdieri/Associated Press))

The open-air mass at an airfield in the Brazilian city wasone of the highlights of the Pope's visit to the Latin American country, which has one of the world's largest Roman Catholic populations.

Franciscan monk Antonio de Sant'Anna Galvao is credited with 5,000 miracle cures and the Vatican has officially certified the medical cases of two Brazilian women as divinely inspired miracles that justify his sainthood.

Friar Galvao, who died 185years ago,began a tradition among Brazilian Catholics of handing out tiny rice-paper pills, inscribed with a Latin prayer, to people seeking cures for everything from cancer to kidney stones.

On Thursday night, Benedict warned more than 40,000 young Catholics about drugs, violence, and the corruption of wealth and power.

The Pope, who spoke at a youth rally at a soccer field in Sau Paulo, told those at the gathering not to waste their lives, but to live according to a strict moral code that respects marriage.

While he made no mention of the church's battle against Brazil's free distribution of condoms to combat AIDS, he touched on sexual themes with a call for fidelity between spouses and chastity "both within and outside marriage"— church language for responsible sex.

Pope Benedict warned thousands of young people at an event at Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo on Thursday about drugs, violence, and the corruption of wealth and power. ((Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press))

He called on them to build a world with less violence and more justice, telling the crowd they are the future of the church. My dear young people, Christ is calling on you to be saints, he said.

Traditional Brazilian dancers entertained the 80-year-old Pope, who was wearing a red cape against the evening chill. At one point, five young people came up to the stage and hugged the pontiff.

Benedict arrived in Brazil on Wednesday, his first visit to the country since he became Pope in 2005.

The visit to Brazil is meant to re-energize the faith in the Latin American country. While roughly 70 per cent of Brazil's 185 million residents are Catholic, many are moving to evangelical denominations or opting out of official religions.

The Pope has admitted he's worried about the trend in what he calls "The Continent of Hope."

The tour ends on Sunday, when he will open the conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops in Aparecida, near Sao Paulo.

With files from the Associated Press