Peals of laughter and enthusiastic cries filled the air as millions of youth crowded together in anticipation of the great moment. Gazing upon the now historic beach were a mass of people stretching as far as the eye could see. Holy Father Francis inched his way slowly through the cheering crowd, shaking hands and greeting the pilgrims. The excitement was palpable and the throng was wild with joy. Exultant cries of “Esta é a juventude do papa”! (this is the Pope’s youth!) “Esta é a juventude do papa!” thunderously echoed across the sand. The shouts of the youth were vibrant and persistent. All this jubilee was due to WYD 2013, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in Brazil, a bustling city known for its tropical forests and 2 ½ mile long beach in Copacabana. The weather was hot and humid and it rained for the first few days of the massive event, causing a variety of problems for the young, yet ever-smiling pilgrims. It rained so hard that the main events of the last two days on Saturday and Sunday were providentially moved thirty miles away to the famous Copacabana Beach, where the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. This move caused many of the youth to be transported to the main city whereupon hordes of them continued the journey on foot several miles to the beach, giving witness to their faith in Christ. In this wake, other curious non-Catholic youth were swept along in their curiosity, enabling the Holy Spirit to touch their hearts in mysterious ways. The Five saints chosen to be patrons of WYD 2013 were Our Lady of Aparecida, St. Sebastian, St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed John Paul II and St. Antonio Galvao de Santana. While many Brazilians have been devoted to St. Antonio Galvao de Santana for centuries, the rest of the world would finally learn about this very holy Franciscan Friar, totally devoted to Our Lady.
Antonio Galvao was born in 1739 in the vast state of Sao Paulo, Brazil of wealthy and prestigious parents. They were devout Catholics who were very careful to instill the faith deeply in the hearts of their ten children. The father, Antônio Galvão de França, a generous man and a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, was educated and a well qualified mayor of the city. His mother, Isabel Leite de Barros, also a charitable woman, was a great-granddaughter of a famous explorer in Brazil, Fernao Dias Pais who was also known as the “Emerald Hunter”, though he was unsuccessful in finding any of the green gems. When Antonio was only 16, his mother died at the young age of 38.
Antonio’s father sent him to a Jesuit school (Colegio de Belem) to pursue studies to become a Jesuit priest, where he made great progress. However, there was a great political uproar in Portugal that caused the Jesuits to be expelled and this distrust spread to Brazil. In order to avoid the tumult, Antonio’s father thought it best that his son transfer to the Franciscan Order. He became a Franciscan novice at the age of sixteen at the Friary of St. Bonaventure in Vila de Macacu. His family had great devotion to St. Ann because she was the mother of the Virgin Mary and for this reason Antonio took the religious name “Anthony of Saint Ann”. He made his solemn profession on April 16, 1761 and made an additional vow to defend the Virgin Mary’s title of “The Immaculate Conception” even to death. At that time there was great discussion and controversy about the dogma yet to be proclaimed. Opponents of the Immaculate Conception preached the “pre-sanctification of Mary after contraction of original sin” even though Pope Gregory XV issued a decree forbidding anyone to preach against the Immaculate Conception. Other friars had taken this same oath and in the 1600s were jailed by the inquisition for preaching about this glorious mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Freemasonry managed to creep into Latin America during the 18th century and with it the opposition to her Immaculate Conception, which explains why so many Franciscans and religious in other orders in places like Brazil took this vow.
Antonio’s superiors were so confident of the special graces and gifts that he received from on high that he was ordained to the priesthood on July 11, 1762 even before he completed his studies. When he finished his studies 1766, he surrendered himself to Our Lady and became her “servant and slave”, and on March 9, 1766 he signed a document in his own blood attesting to this promise. He was appointed preacher, confessor and porter of the convent of St. Francis in Sao Paolo. The position of porter was dear to his heart because he was able to practice corporal works of mercy and bring his love of Jesus and Mary to the people who visited the convent.
In 1769, Father Galvao was named confessor to the Recollects of St. Teresa (Recolhimento), in Sao Paulo. It was a hermitage of women dedicated to St. Teresa of Avila who did not take vows. There he met Sr. Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit who claimed that she had visions of Jesus asking her to found a new Recollect house. Father Antonio prayed a great deal about this request and sought advice from holy and wise priests. After much consideration, he believed that her visions were authentic and felt that he was obliged to respond. He helped build the new Recollect house and, named it “Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence”. It was established on February 2, 1774, the Feast day of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, where it became the home for girls who wanted to live in community without making religious vows but desired to live a deeper religious life.
Only a year later, on February 23, 1775, Sr. Helena died suddenly and Father Antonio was appointed the new superior. Taking the task of formation for the women upon himself, he wrote the statutes as a guide for the interior life and religious discipline. As more women wished to join, he needed to build a larger hermitage. It took twenty-eight years to complete and was finally inaugurated on the feast day of the Assumption, August 15, 1802.
Father Antonio, a man of deep prayer and great faith, received from God mystical gifts of bilocation, reading souls, levitation and healing. There once was a dying man who claimed that Father had been to see him with the last rites but his family scoffed since the saint was proved to be elsewhere at that time. His family continued to beg him to go to confession. To confound their disbelief, the sick man at last took a handkerchief from under his pillow and revealed his secret to his family. His family rejoiced when he told them that Father Antonio had forgotten it when he recently heard his confession and confirmed Father’s gift of bilocation. Father Antonio was a renowned confessor because of his zeal and love for souls. His ardent charity was often manifested in assisting whenever possible those who asked for his help. He was known to walk wherever he went, traversing great distances in Sao Paolo without the use of a horse.
The suffering poor afflicted with ailments sought the healing gifts of Father, who was ever ready to assuage their sufferings when possible. He became famous for his “paper pills” wherein his great love for Our Lady was demonstrated. On little papers he wrote a Latin phrase from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary which translates into English as “After childbirth you remained a Virgin: O Mother of God intercede for us”. The patients were instructed to swallow the papers that were rolled into “pills”. One lady was suffering excruciating pain from kidney stones, but when she swallowed the pill that Father Antonio gave to her, the pain stopped instantly. His pills became so popular, that he had to teach the Recollect Sisters how to make them. In fact, the pills are still made and are distributed free of charge to about 300 people every day.
In 1811 at the age of 72, Father Galvao founded St. Clare Friary, (Mosteiro da Imaculada Conceição e Santa Clara) a needed additional convent for the growing number of vocations entering the Recollects da Luz and remained there for almost a year. He then returned to Sao Paolo and while remaining faithful to his duties to the Sisters, obtained permission from his superior and the bishop to live at the Convent of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence where he died on December 23, 1822. He was laid to rest at the Convent which remains a place of devotion for pilgrims seeking his intercession and praying for healing. In 1929 this convent was incorporated into the Order of the Immaculate Conception (Ordo Inmaculatae Conceptionis), also known as the Conceptionists, founded by Saint Beatrice of Silva in 1484 under the aegis of the Franciscans.
At the beatification of Antonio de Sant’Anna Galvao, O.F.M on October 25, 1998, Pope John Paul II said, “Let us thank God for the continual blessings granted through the powerful evangelizing influence which the Holy Spirit has exercised in so many souls down to our day through Friar Galvão. His authentically Franciscan faith, evangelically lived and apostolically spent in serving his neighbor, will be an encouragement to imitate this “man of peace and charity”. His mission of founding “Recolhimentos” dedicated to Our Lady and to Providence still bears astounding fruit: he was a fervent adorer of the Eucharist, a teacher and defender of Gospel charity, a wise spiritual director for many souls and a defender of the poor. May Mary Immaculate, whose “son and everlasting slave” Friar Galvão considered himself, enlighten the hearts of the faithful and awaken in them a hunger for God and a commitment to serving his kingdom through their own witness of authentic Christian life.”
The Miracle that the Church approved for St. Antonio’s beatification is as follows:
In 1990, in São Paulo, a four-year-old girl named Daniela was suffering from bronco-pulmonary illnesses and seizures. She was hospitalized and was diagnosed with hepatic encephalopathy as a result of Hepatitis-A, liver failure, kidney failure, intoxication from Metoclopramide, and hypertension. These symptoms led to other serious complications and two other hospital infections. After being hospitalized for thirteen days, her family members, friends, neighbors, and the religious sisters from the Monastery of Light prayed and gave her the “pills” of Friar Galvão. On June 13, 1990, Daniela left the intensive care unit and on June 21st she was released from the hospital after being declared cured. Her pediatrician testified before the Ecclesiastical Tribunal that she attributes Daniela’s cure and total recovery to divine intervention.
On May 11, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Antonio de Sant’Anna Galvao, O.F.M, the first Brazilian born saint, at a Mass in Brazil on the occasion of the fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean with a million people in attendance. He said, “Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, stands particularly close to us at this moment. Frei Galvão prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. She, the Tota Pulchra, 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 Saviour. 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 forever and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and Protector of his spiritual daughters. …There is a phrase included in the formula of his consecration 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!" 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.
“In our day, Our Lady has been given to us as the best defense against the evils that afflict modern life; Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation. And what an unfailing support is this mysterious presence of the Virgin Most Pure, when we invoke the protection and the help of the Senhora Aparecida! Let us place in her most holy hands the lives of priests and consecrated laypersons, seminarians and all who are called to religious life.”
The miracle that the church approved for his canonization is as follows:
Sandra Grossi de Almeida from São Paulo, had a serious physical defect with her uterus, making it “impossible” to carry a baby to term. After three miscarriages she became pregnant again in 1999, and the doctors did not believe that she could carry the child to term since this defect made it impossible for the gestation to be completed. However, Sandra turned to St. Antonio, begging for his intercession and took the Friar’s “pills” during the entire pregnancy. On December 11, during the 32nd week of her pregnancy, Daniela underwent a cesarean section without any complications. Enzo de Almeida Galafassi was born with high-risk respiratory problems. However, on December 12th, the child no longer showed any sign of illness and was released from the hospital on December 19th.
A new miracle
Divine Providence is working to spread the fame of Our Lady’s devoted son by allowing a miracle to occur recently here in the U.S. through his intercession. In 2014, Donielle Wilde of Charlotte, NC, who was pregnant with her tenth child, had stage-four breast cancer. The doctors advised her to have an abortion so they could treat her cancer aggressively, but she and her husband resisted. They were determined to follow God’s way. Donielle received the novena prayer to St. Antonio and the “pill” from a woman in MO who had received a healing from this Brazilian saint during one of her own pregnancies that was fraught with difficulties. Donielle prayed the novena and swallowed the “pill” on which was written the Latin phrase: Post partum Virgo, inviolata permansisti, Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis (“After childbirth you remained a Virgin: O Mother of God intercede for us”). She had a beautiful baby girl named Sylvia who was born on November 6, 2014. After the baby was born, she had a CT scan and no cancer was found.
Message from Pope Francis on the last day of WYD2013
During the final WYD2013 Mass on the Copacabana Beach, our Holy Father Francis exhorted the youth to “Go and make disciples of all nations”. He asked them to imitate Mary and respond to God’s grace with a “Yes”. After Our Lady’s yes to God, she went in haste to bring the Light of the World to her cousin Elizabeth. At the Angelus he said: “Let us ask Our Lady to help us too to give Christ’s joy to our families, our companions, our friends, to everyone. Never be afraid to be generous with Christ. It is worth it! Go out and set off with courage and generosity, so that every man and every woman may meet the Lord.” St. Antonio was that disciple in his devotion to our Lady and in his zeal for souls. May he intercede for us so that we, too, can be true children of Our Heavenly Mother and bring Christ to the world.
 http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/samaha10.htm: Mary was sanctified and preserved from sin either before animation, that is, before God infused a soul into the physical embryo in her mother's womb, or after animation. However, in our thinking we consider Mary first as a daughter of Adam and then sanctified as a daughter of God. Blessed John Duns Scotus explained that the time element was not the type of order in question: … this does not necessarily place the soul of our Blessed Mother in two successive states--sin followed by grace. With Mary, conception and sanctification were simultaneous, producing a twofold situation at the first moment of existence. At one and the same time, Mary, as a human descendant of Adam and Eve, contracted the debt of original sin and became by the privileged infusion of grace a daughter of God, which preserved her from the consequences of the common lot of fallen nature by a special anticipation of the merits of the Savior. Consequently, Christ was Mary's Redeemer more perfectly by preservative redemption in shielding her from original sin through anticipating and foreseeing the merits of his passion and death. This pre-redemption indicates a much greater grace and more perfect salvation.