March 5, 2014 — Three key figures in the establishment of the Catholic Church in Brazil and in Canada — including one Jesuit — may be declared saints before the end of the year, according to Jesuit Father Marc Lindeijer, who is helping prepare the documentation required for their canonizations.
Blessed Jesuit Father José de Anchieta, known as the Apostle of Brazil; Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation, known as the Mother of the Canadian Church; and Blessed Francois de Laval, the first bishop of Quebec, are being considered for sainthood. The three were beatified together in 1980 by Pope John Paul II.
Jesuit Father José de Anchieta was born on March 19, 1534, in the Canary Islands to a well-off family. He went to study in Portugal when he was 14 years old. An intensely religious individual, he applied to the Jesuit College of the University of Coimbra as a novice in 1551.
In 1553, Anchieta traveled to Brazil as a missionary with the third group of Jesuits sent to the New World. He and his colleague, Manuel da Nóbrega, founded a Jesuit college in Rio de Janeiro. Despite Anchieta‘s precarious health and the difficulty of his journeys, he traveled widely across Brazil for the next 10 years, consolidating the expanding missionary work of the Jesuits. In 1577, the fourth superior general of the Jesuits, Everard Mercurian, appointed Anchieta provincial superior of the Jesuits in Brazil.
Anchieta died in Brazil on June 9, 1597, at Reritiba, Espírito Santo, and was mourned by more than 3,000 native peoples who valued all he had done for them both spiritually and in the promotion of their human dignity. Known as the patron of literature and music in Brazil, Anchieta is celebrated as the founder of Brazilian literature and is known as the “Apostle of Brazil.” He wrote theology, religious instruction, drama, poetry and the first published work on the Old Tupi indigenous language. He also taught Christianity to the local people through music and theatre.
According to Fr. Lindeijer, Pope Francis waived some of the procedures in the Brazilian and Canadian causes in response to requests from the bishops' conferences of those countries. Fr. Lindeijer said the saints would be canonized “on the basis of massive popular devotion.” He added that the pope could sign a decree recognizing the three new saints as early as April and then set a date for their canonization. [Sources: National Catholic Reporter, Sacred Space]