Frei Galvao, the First Brazilian Saint

On Saturday, the Pope presided at Mass in Sao Paulo's "Campo de Marte" in the presence of a million people. During the ceremony he canonized Blessed Antonio de Santa Ana (Antonio Galvao de Franca, 1739-1822), a Franciscan priest who founded the "Recolhimento" (Retreat) of Our Lady of the Conception and Divine Providence, today known as the Convent of Light.

Beginning his homily, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to the Conceptionist nuns who, he said, "spread the spirituality and charism of the first Brazilian to be raised to the glory of the altars."

"The Franciscan charism, lived out in the spirit of the Gospel," he went on, "has borne significant fruits through [Frei Galvao's] witness as an ardent adorer of the Eucharist, as a prudent and wise guide of the souls who sought his counsel, and as a man with a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, whose 'son and perpetual servant' he considered himself to be."

"The Holy Eucharist," said the Pope, "contains all the spiritual wealth of the Church," and Christians "must come to know the faith of the Church through her ordained ministers, through the exemplary manner in which they carry out the prescribed rites that always point to the eucharistic liturgy as the center of the entire task of evangelization. The faithful, in their turn, must seek to receive and to venerate the Most Holy Sacrament with piety and devotion, eager to welcome the Lord Jesus with faith, and having recourse, whenever necessary, to the Sacrament of Penance so as to purify the soul from every grave sin."

Frei Galvao "was renowned as a counselor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and the sick. The conversion of sinners was therefore the great passion of our saint."

"United with the Lord in the supreme communion of the Eucharist and reconciled with Him and our neighbor, we will thus become bearers of that peace which the world cannot give. Will the men and women of this world be able to find peace if they are not aware of the need to be reconciled with God, with their neighbor and with themselves?"

"Renown of the immense charity" of the Franciscan saint "knew no bounds," said the Holy Father, pointing out that "pastoral initiatives for the building up of society, if directed towards the good of the poor and the sick, bear within themselves this divine seal," that of the love of God Who died on the Cross to save us.

"Frei Galvao prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the definitive seal of our encounter with God our Savior. There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady. In fact, the saint that we are celebrating gave himself irrevocably to the Mother of Jesus from his youth, desiring to belong to her for ever, and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and Protector of his spiritual daughters."

"The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and of virginity before marriage. Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation."

At the end of his homily, the Holy Father invited the faithful to give thanks to God for the gift of sanctity "which, together with faith, is the greatest grace that can be bestowed upon a creature: the firm desire to attain the fullness of charity, in the conviction that holiness is not only possible but also necessary for every person in his or her own state of life, so as to reveal to the world the true face of Christ, our friend!"

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