On his road to sainthood, one of the miracles attributed to Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão involved curing a woman who faced a life-threatening childbirth. For this reason, Saint Antônio is honoured as a patron of pregnant women!
Never heard of Saint Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão? He was just canonized Friday morning by Pope Benedict XVI in São Paulo! He's also the first Brazilian born person to be proclaimed a saint!
More commonly known as Frei Galvão, this saintly friar was born in 1739 in Guaratinguetá, São Paulo into a devout and prestigious family. He joined the Franciscans when he was 21 and was ordained two years later in 1762. Besides carrying out his priestly duties with the laity, and serving as a porter at one point, Saint Antônio was involved in the establishment and spiritual formation of more than one religious community in and around the São Paulo area. He died in December 1822.
In Saint Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão's canonization homily, Pope Benedict XVI remarked:
The significance of Frei Galvão's example lies in his willingness to be of service to the people whenever he was asked. He was renowned as a counsellor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and the sick. He was greatly sought out as a confessor, because he was zealous, wise and prudent. It is characteristic of those who truly love that they do not want the Beloved to be offended; the conversion of sinners was therefore the great passion of our saint.
As Pope Benedict recounted, the Brazilian saint called on the faithful to pray for sinners that they may experience the divine mercy of God! The Pontiff also emphasized the importance that our lives provide a witness to the Gospel:
My dearest friends, what a fine example Frei Galvão has left for us to follow! There is a phrase included in the formula of his consecration [ed: into the religious life] which sounds remarkably contemporary to us, who live in an age so full of hedonism: "Take away my life before I offend your blessed Son, my Lord!" They are strong words, the words of an impassioned soul, words that should be part of the normal life of every Christian, whether consecrated or not, and they enkindle a desire for fidelity to God in married couples as well as in the unmarried. 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 virginity before marriage.
As we look around us, and at our own lives, we can see that this is an important reminder not just to the people of Latin America, but to all of us. While on the theme of purity, the Holy Father also encouraged Marian devotion, addressing Our Lady under the title of 'Virgin Most Pure' and calling her "the best defence against the evils that afflict modern life." Pope Benedict concluded by quoting his homily from World Youth Day 2005's Saturday Vigil:
"Only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world" (Homily, 25 August 2005). This is the invitation that I address to all of you today, from the first to the last, in this Eucharist without frontiers. God said: "Be holy, as I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44). Let us give thanks to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit from whom, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we receive all the blessings of heaven; from whom we receive this gift 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! Amen!
Frei Galvão believed in this possibility of holiness and charity. Unfortunately, we often do not; we excuse and exclude ourselves from it, believe we are above it, or believe it is unattainable.
Let us pray then, to this newly proclaimed saint, St. Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão, that he may intercede in our lives, that we may be penetrated with a desire for holiness, and a desire to give more of ourselves, that we may follow Our Lord as holy and loving men and women of the Gospel!
St. Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão, pray for us!