Pope Francis canonized two nuns from 19th century Palestine on Sunday in hopes of encouraging Christians across the Middle East who are facing a wave of persecution from Islamic extremists.

John Huddy reported on "America's News Headquarters" that Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas are the first Arabic-speaking, Palestinian Catholic saints.

"They were born in the 1840s and worked tirelessly for the poor, founding schools and convents in Jerusalem and Bethlehem," Huddy reported. "And both are credited with having performed several miracles, a necessary requirement, by the way, for sainthood."

Huddy reported that it was a historic day with both religious and political overtones.

"The canonization of the two nuns highlighted Pope Francis's efforts to really increase the diminishing number of Christians in the Middle East at a time when they're being persecuted by ISIS," Huddy said.

Huddy noted that the ceremony also comes just days after the Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a treaty.

Watch the "America's News Headquarters" report above.


You might also be interested in ...

Watch What Happens When Two Cops Offer People 'Free Hugs'

Teen Whose Heart Stopped for 20 Minutes Says He Saw Jesus

'I Was Just Crying': Son of Fallen Officer Recounts Being Given Father's Car

Hearse Carrying Veteran Stops at Dunkin' Donuts on Way to Funeral