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Catholic World News News Feature

Pope proclaims first Brazilian saint May 11, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Brazil's first native-born saint on May 11, in solemn ceremonies attended by nearly 1 million people at an airfield outside Sao Paolo.

St. Antonio de Santa Ana Galvao (1739- 1822) became famous during his lifetime both for his deep faith and for his association with extraordinary healings. The Franciscan friar made a habit of handing out small "pills" consisting of rice paper inscribed with prayers, and these pills, which are still made by Brazilian nuns today, have been credited by the faithful with thousands of miracle cures. The first cure attributed to Frei Galvao involved a woman whose life was threatened by a difficult childbirth, and consequently he is revered as a special patron of pregnant women.

During the Mass at which he canonized the Brazilian friar, Pope Benedict said that today's world "needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds" patterned after the example set by Frei Galvao. Christians, he said, must resist the temptation to think of their lives as "mere objects of pleasure."

Expanding on that theme, the Holy Father told the people of Brazil to reject the appeals of hedonism, and the temptations offered by material comfort and pleasure. He urged Christians to strengthen the bonds of their families, in order to counteract the images put forward by the mass media, which denigrate marital fidelity and encourage sexual license. Pope Benedict also said that Christian charity requires believers to be prudent stewards, safeguarding the natural resources of the earth.

Frei Galvao is the 10th saint proclaimed by Benedict XVI since his election to the papacy in April 2005. The Thursday-morning ceremony marked the first time that the current Pontiff has presided at a canonization outside the Vatican.

Tens of thousands of people gathered on the Campo de Marte airfield on Thursday evening, camping out on the open ground in order to attend the canonization, despite unseasonable cold weather.

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