Heroes of the Faith

Bl. Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão

Bl. Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão, also know as Frei Galvao, was born in 1739 in Guaratinguetá, São Paulo, Brazil, to a deeply religious family of high social standing. When he was 13, his father sent him to the Jesuit seminary In Belém, but on account of the anti-Jesuit climate, his father later recommended that he pursue his vocation with the Alcantarine Franciscans instead.

On 15 April 1760, he entered the noviciate at St Bonaventure Friary in Macacu, Rio de Janeiro. After making his solemn profession in 1761, he was ordained a priest on 11 June 1762 and was sent to St Francis Friary in Sao Paulo, where in 1768 he was appointed preacher, confessor of the laity and porter.

In 1769-70 he served as confessor to the "Recolhimento" of some devout women, the Recollects of St Teresa in Sao Paulo. Here he met Sr Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit, who said she had visions in which Jesus was asking her to make a new "Recolhimento". The new foundation, Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence, was established on 2 February 1774 and modeled on the Conceptionists. In its early days, it accepted young girls who wished to live as religious without being bound by vows.

After Sr Helena's unexpected death in 1775, Friar Galvao showed humility and prudence in caring for the Recollects. Due to the great number of vocations, more space was required. It took him 28 years to build the convent and the church, which was dedicated on 15 August 1802. Friar Galvao gave his full attention to the Recollects' formation. His principal work is the excellent Rule or Statute he wrote for them, which clearly reveals his personality. In 1929 this convent became a monastery, incorporated into the Order of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1781 Friar Galvao was appointed novice master in Macacu and in 1798, guardian of St Francis Friary in Sao Paulo. He was reelected in 1801. But the "Recollects da Luz" and the Bishop of Sao Paulo appealed to the Provincial: "None of the inhabitants of this city will be able to bear the absence of this religious for a single moment ... ". As a result, he returned. In 1802 he became definitor and in 1808, visitator general and president of the Chapter, but was forced to give up these posts for reasons of health.

In 1811 he founded St Clare Friary in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo. After 11 months, he returned to Sao Paulo to St Francis Friary. In his old age, he obtained permission from the Bishop and the guardian to stay at the Recolhimento da Luz. He died on 23 December 1822.

Friar Galvao was buried in the Recholhimento church, and his tomb continues to be a destination for pilgrimages of the faithful, who obtain graces through the intercession of this "man of peace and charity", the founder of the "Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz".

Source: L'Osservatore Romano

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