VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis issued decrees recognizing that 12 candidates for sainthood, including U.S. Sacred Heart Brother Norbert McAuliffe, lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way.

The decrees promulgated by the pope May 19 are the first major step in the sainthood process. A miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession would be needed before beatification and another miracle would be needed for the person’s canonization.

Brother McAuliffe was born Sept. 30, 1886, in New York. After joining the missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart, he was sent to Uganda where he founded the order’s first mission in Gulu, in the north of the country. He died there July 3, 1959.

Among the other decrees was one recognizing the “heroic virtues” of Polish Cardinal August Hlond, archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw during World War II. He died in 1948.

A Colombian bishop, Bishop Miguel Angel Builes Gomez of Santa Rosa de Osos, who died in 1971, also was among the candidates whose causes advanced.

The others were five priests and four religious women including one known as the “Angel of Auschwitz,” Trinitarian Sister Angela Maria Autsch. Born in Germany, she entered a novitiate in Austria. Turned into the Gestapo by a Nazi informant who had heard she criticized Hitler, she was held in the Innsbruck jail before being sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp and, eventually, to Auschwitz-Birkenau where she died Dec. 23, 1944, just a month before the Allies liberated the camp.