This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16 -- Feast of the Martyrs of Brasil

I might not have mentioned Father Andre de Soveral, Father Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, Mateus Moreiras, and the other Portuguese missionaries who were murdered by Dutch Calvinist missionaries in Brasil.  It is true that Butler's Lives mentions Blessed Mateus' heart being torn out through his back, and I usually enjoy such details as that.  The knee-jerk rejection of missionaries as tools of imperialism rings especially false in the case of Jesuits in Latin America, for they were critical of the slavery being both imposed on native and imported from Africa.   Moreover, the folks doing the murdering here were not natives struggling to maintain their culture but rather Dutch imperialists seeking to drive out Portuguese imperialists, Calvinists trying to eradicate Catholics.

But as I say, I might not have mentioned it, even after coming across a second set of Martyrs of Brasil, celebrated tomorrow (or yesterday, depending on the source).    Inácio de Azevedo de Ataíde e Abreu Malafaia was a Jesuit priest who had returned to Rome to ask for more support for his mission in Brasil.  The Order's Superior General, Saint Francis Borgia, encouraged him to recruit the folks he needed.  He had a boatload headed back with him to Brasil when they were overtaken by the French Huguenot (Calvinists, again) pirate, Jacques de Sores.  This was probably as much about French vs. Portuguese as it was about Calvinist vs. Catholic, just as the other was Dutch vs. Portuguese.  Nonetheless, the crew members who survived the attack were taken prisoner but the priests were all murdered and thrown into the ocean.  

For a third time, let me say that I might not have mentioned this.  It does not do my soul much good to reflect on the inter-Christian murders, nor even the inter-religious murders, nor even the murders that are in some way related to faith.  Perhaps I am inspired by Father de Soveral, who continued to say Mass as his attacks approached the altar and murdered him.  Perhaps I can even find some inspiration in the example of Father Inacio de Azevedo, who held up a portrait of the BVM during the battle with the pirates.  Okay, it is a ludicrous image, but no doubt it was a sincere contribution to the battle by a man of great faith.

But none of this is what I want to focus on.  Instead, I think it is important to note that World Youth Day begins tomorrow in Rio.  [World Youth Day is a misnomer, since it is a week-long celebration.]  Global Catholicism will be showcased in Brasil, and the relics of Pope John Paul II, the founder of World Youth Day, have already arrived to enhance the festival.   Perhaps it is inconsistent with the spirit of ecumenism that I enjoy picturing old John Calvin's face as he observed the veneration of a vial of the Pope's blood on display in Rio next week.

I don't often offer a direct prayer on this blog but today is a good opportunity for an exception.  "Help me not to gloat as I read of the successes of World Youth Day.  Help me to be humble when my house is triumphant.  Help me to contemplate the injustices of the past without anger or resentment, recognizing that all humanity, with its faults and weaknesses, is the author of its own fratricidal discord.  No matter which of us kills another in the name of God, it is a collective sin that we must oppose.  Help me to remember this, to be tolerant and kind, generous and humble.

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