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April 3, 2014, Ottawa, Ontario: Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement following news from the Vatican that two Canadians, Marie de lIncarnation and François de Laval, have been canonized by the Catholic Church:

“Today, I welcome the very exciting news from the Vatican that His Holiness Pope Francis has officially proclaimed Canadians Marie de l’Incarnation and François de Laval as Saints.

“It is entirely fitting that this recognition be given to two outstanding Canadians who were pillars of the early Church in Canada and whose lives exemplified faith and piety.

“This is a tremendous honour for Canada and a wonderful day for Catholics.”

Saint Marie de l'Incarnation, often referred to as the “Mother of the CanadianChurch,” was an Ursuline nun who founded Canada’s first school. Fluent in local languages, she taught the children of both the settlers and the Aboriginal population.

Saint François de Laval was the second Catholic bishop in North America and laid the foundations for the Church in French Canada. As a missionary to New France, he rejected his family’s wealth to faithfully pursue his spiritual vocation.

Both were beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1980 and declared Saints by Pope Francis on April 3, 2014. They served and died in what is today QuébecCity, where they are buried.