Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood causes of five women and a priest.

The pope March 23 signed decrees recognizing that each of the six candidates heroically lived the Christian virtues. Beatification will require a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession, and canonization -- a declaration of sainthood -- will require an additional miracle.

Among the causes that were advanced were those of two laywomen:

-- Maria Domenica Lazzeri was born in Italy in 1815 and worked in the family's fields and mill. She was diagnosed with anorexia after contracting a serious infectious disease that swept through the area and after experiencing a traumatic event. In 1835 she received the stigmata on her hands, feet and the right side of her torso then blood appeared on her head every Friday in the same places where it would have appeared with a crown of thorns. She died in 1848 at the age of 33.

-- Teresa Enríquez de Alvarado was born in Spain sometime around 1456 and was a lady-in-waiting of the future Queen of Castile, Isabella I. She married a man who ruled over several estates and held important offices in the Kingdom of Castile until his death in 1503. She dedicated the rest of her life to prayer and charity and died in 1529.

The other decrees pertained to the causes of:

-- Salesian Father Carlo Crespi Croci, who was born in 1891 in Italy and died in 1982 in Cuenca, Ecuador. He earned a doctorate in natural sciences and a diploma in music before heading to Ecuador where he opened an institute of education, a primary school for poor children, a college for Salesians, sewing workshops for young women and a museum. He received the gold medal of merit from the president of Ecuador and also was honored by the Italian government.

-- Mother Catherine Flanagan was born in London, England, in 1892 and died in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1941. She became a member of the first Bridgettine community in Rome and later served as mother superior of communities in Switzerland, England and Sweden.

-- Sister Leonilde di San Giovanni Battista, born Amelia Rossi, was an Italian who was born in 1890 and died in 1945; she was a member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and sought to unite her will with God's through an intense prayer life.

-- Sister María do Monte Pereira, born Eliza de Jesús, was Portuguese and was born in 1897 and died in 1963; she was a member of the Congregation of Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and spent her life dedicated to helping people in need.