Tag Archives: Portugal

This Portuguese Jesuit was a poet, dramatist, and scholar. He also converted more than one million native Brazilians

Joseph de Anchieta is considered the Apostle of Brazil and the father of Brazilian Literature.

St. Joseph of Anchieta                       en.wikipedia.org

Larry Peterson

Joseph de Anchieta was born on March 19, 1534, in San Cristobal de La Laguna in a city called Tenerife which was in the Canary Islands. Joseph’s dad was a wealthy landowner who had escaped to Tenerife after participating in a plot to overthrow King Charles V.

The rebellion had failed but his dad, Juan Lopez de Anchieta , managed to hold on to his wealth and the family was still well off. His mom, Mancia Diaz de Clavijo y Llarena, came from a Jewish family. She was the daughter of Sebastian de Llarena, a Jewish man, who had converted to Christianity and was related to Ignatius Loyola.

Joseph went off to study in Portugal when he was 14 years old. He was accepted into the Royal College of Arts in Coimbra. When he turned 17, he applied to the Jesuit College of the University of Coimbra as a novice. Joseph was an intensely religious young man and while he was a novice, he almost destroyed his health by his excessive sacrifice to please Our Lord.  To make matters worse, he became very ill with a spinal condition that would torment him throughout his life. Even so, besides his regular studies, he managed to learn two new languages, Portuguese and Latin.

At the age of 19, Joseph traveled to Brazil as a missionary. He was among the third group of Jesuits sent to the New World. The journey was fraught with mishaps and even a shipwreck but finally, they arrived in Sao Vicente. This was the first village founded in Brazil 20 years earlier and it was now 1554. They were led by the second governor-general nominated by the Portuguese crown, Duarte da Costa. It was here that Joseph and his companions had their first contact with the native Tapula Indians.

Later in the year, Joseph and twelve of his Jesuits companions were sent to s plateau in the Serra do Mar, where they established a small mission. Joseph and his friends immediately went to work teaching, converting, baptizing, and evangelizing the pagan natives. Joseph began teaching Latin to the natives while simultaneously learning their own language.

He began compiling a dictionary and a grammar book, a custom the Jesuits always maintained after making contact with the locals. Soon the mission was being called the Jesuit College Sao Paulo of Piratininga. The mission was growing faster than expected. It was also beginning to prosper.

However, the Portuguese colonialists were causing considerable trouble. They were killing the natives and destroying the villages of the local tribes. Joseph de Anchieta was wholly opposed to the actions supported by Duarte and started peace negotiations. His knowledge of the language was crucial and he managed to gain the native’s confidence and peace was established. It was a fragile peace and it was broken a number of times before a final peace was established with victory over the French in 1567.

With the permanent peace established, a Jesuit college was founded in Rio De Janeiro and put under the direction of Joseph’s best friend, Manuel da Nobrega. He died in 1570 and Joseph took charge of the college. Besides administering the school, Joseph de Anchieta, in poor health, traveled by foot and by boat for the next ten years from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia and other cities continuing to extend the influence of the Jesuits and the Catholic faith.

Joseph de Anchieta is honored as the founder of Brazilian literature and he and his friend, Manuel da Nobrega, are called the Apostles of Brazil. Many places in Brazil are named after Joseph including roads, hospitals, institutions, and schools. He is the first playwright, the first grammarian, and the first poet to be born in the Canary Islands. He is also a writer of music, a dramatist, and a poet. He is the Brazilian patron of literature and music and, to top it off, was an excellent physician and surgeon. WHEW!

Joseph de Anchieta passed away on June 9, 1597. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II  on June 22, 1980. He was canonized by Pope Francis on April 3, 2014.

There are many stories that are attributed to St. Joseph de Anchieta. One tells how he was about to be attacked in the jungle by a snarling panther. Joseph looked at the panther and began to preach. The panther relaxed and walked away. To this day, a popular devotion is to pray to St. Joseph de Anchieta for protection against animal attacks.

St. Joseph de Anchieta, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Honoring the Tongue of St. Anthony of Padua. His Tongue, known as the “Hammer of Heretics,” has its own Feast day.

“The Life of the Body is the Soul; The Life of the Soul is God”  St. Anthony of Padua

By Larry Peterson

He was born as Fernando Martins de Bulhoes in Lisbon, Portugal, on August 15, 1195. His family was wealthy, and this enabled Fernando to enter the upscale Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra (at that time the capital of Portugal) when he was only 15. Fernando had a brilliant mind and quickly learned theology and Latin.

After Fernando was ordained a priest, he was named the hospitality director of his abbey. Shortly after that, Franciscan friars established a small hermitage outside the city. Dedicated to St. Anthony of Egypt,  Fernando developed a deep desire to become one of these friars. He sought permission to join them and it was granted. Upon entering his new order, he took the name of Anthony.

Anthony had a great speaking voice, a keen mind, and a great memory. As time passed by, he used his tongue so effectively at dispelling heresies and false rumors he became known as the Hammer of Heretics. He was the first theologian of the Franciscan Order and, besides being one of the greatest preachers to ever speak, he also possessed the spirit of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles.

Anthony traveled to Morocco to preach but became very sick. He was returned to Portugal to recover but the voyage blew off course, and the ship landed in Sicily. From there, they went to Tuscany. The local friars had his health evaluated and assigned him to the hermitage of San Paolo.  Anthony spent most of his time recovering by praying and studying. However, he died at the age of 35.

Anthony of Padua was canonized a saint less than a year after his death by Pope Gregory IX. It was and still is one of the quickest canonizations in the history of the church.  In 1946, Pope Pius XII proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church. We also know him as the patron saint of lost things. His feast day is June 13. However, we also have the feast day honoring The Holy Tongue of St. Anthony. That is on February 15, and here is how that came about.

St. Anthony died on June 13, 1231. He was buried in the little Franciscan church of St. Mary, in Padua. Thirty-two years later, in 1263, the new basilica on the site was far enough along where they could transfer his body. The plan was to bury the saint under the high altar. When they opened the coffin, Anthony’s body had decayed into ashes and bone. Incredibly, his tongue was pink and moist and totally incorrupt. It was felt that his teachings were so incorrupt that his tongue remained the same way.

St. Bonaventure was present and what he said at that moment was, “O blessed tongue, which has always blessed God and caused others to bless Him, now it appears evident how great were your merits before God!”

Bonaventure picked up the tongue ever so reverently and placed it in a suitable vessel until a proper reliquary could be made for it. In 1310, when the basilica was almost complete, St. Anthony’s remains were moved there.

St. Bonaventure had found the tongue incorrupt but, incredibly, this was validated in 1981. Being carefully examined it was discovered that other parts of the Saint’s body connected to his vocal cords had been preserved from corruption. This newly discovered miracle of incorruption added            extra proof and validation to the story of the “Hammer of  Heretics.”

The Holy Tongue of St. Anthony is in a special reliquary in a separate chapel on the epistle side of the basilica. It has its own special day of honor which is February 15. .People visit The Tongue of St. Anthony to this very day. In fact, five million pilgrims visit the Basilica of St. Anthony every year.

St. Anthony of Padua, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020