On the morning of October 13 local time (afternoon of October 13 Taipei time), Vice President Chen Chien-jen attended the canonization of British Cardinal John Henry Newman and four other blesseds.
Before the ceremony began, a Vatican protocol officer escorted Vice President Chen and Mrs. Chen to greet Pope Francis. On behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President Chen invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan and presented the pope with gifts.
The Vatican protocol officer then escorted Vice President and Mrs. Chen to their seats in the square outside St. Peter's Basilica. Vice President Chen and Mrs. Chen were seated between Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão and Ireland's Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh. Other national delegations were also present for the ceremony, including Italy (led by President Sergio Mattarella), the United Kingdom (led by HRH Prince Charles Philip Arthur George), India (led by Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs Vellamvelly Muraleedharan), and Switzerland (led by Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police Karin Keller-Sutter). Important cardinals, archbishops, and clergy members from various ministries in the Holy See also took part, and ambassadors and staff from many embassies to the Holy See also accepted invitations to attend. Over 10,000 people from around the world packed St. Peter's Square and the Via della Conciliazione to attend the canonization mass.
The canonization ceremony began after the pope and co-celebrants arrived. Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, spoke about the lives of the five blesseds to be canonized, and then asked the pope whether or not he agreed to their canonization. The pope, speaking in Latin, declared the five blesseds to be saints. After the canonization ritual ended, the canonization mass immediately followed.
During the Communion Rites, the vice president and his wife, as practicing Catholics, took the Eucharist, and also exchanged the sign of peace with Brazil's Vice President Mourão and Ireland's Minister for Education and Skills McHugh.
In an interview after the ceremony, Vice President Chen said he was very happy that before the canonization ceremony both he and his wife were able to see Pope Francis and deliver greetings. On behalf of President Tsai and the people of Taiwan, they also invited the pope to Taiwan and presented him with gifts they had brought, including a DVD documentary on Father Matteo Ricci produced by Kuangchi Program Service. The Society of Jesus spent two years filming the documentary at locations throughout mainland China. Because Fr. Ricci was a Jesuit priest, when the pope saw the DVD disk he exclaimed, "Oh! Matteo Ricci." They also gave the pope a copy of Taiwan Panorama magazine with a cover story reporting on foreign priests and nuns who have made tremendous contributions to Taiwan, and the pope clearly enjoyed it.
The vice president mentioned that when Mrs. Chen said, "Your Holiness, we have prayed for you," the pope thanked her and happily responded, "Good! We should pray for each other," and his spirits were lifted.
Vice President Chen said that seeing the burdens the pope has recently been carrying was hard to bear, but he was also happy that the pope was willing to meet with him and his wife, and so graciously accepted their good wishes and prayers. Hopefully, with the pope's blessing, Taiwan can enjoy peace and prosperity, and our people can live in happiness and joy, said the vice president.
In addition to Cardinal Newman, the Holy See also canonized Daughters of Saint Camillus Founder Sister Giuseppina Vannini from Italy, Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family Founder Sister Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan from India, Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God from Brazil, and Marguerite Bays, a devout Catholic from Switzerland.