Dear, oh dear. The Holy Father is getting a bit precious about South America, it seems, and an 18th Century friar, Antonio Galvao, has become the first Brazilian-born saint. Slam dunk for the Catholics, but they’re still well behind on points to the Evangelicals.At a monastery in Sao Paulo, followers of Friar Galvao still use a “miracle cure” on which his reputation rests.
Here’s the deal. The cure comprises tiny paper pellets inscribed with Latin prayers that the faithful swallow whole in the belief that it can rid them of ailments. One wonders what exactly was written in the miraculous vulgate that precipitated an untwisted Fallopian tube, hence the birth of a boy, attributed to Fr Galvao’s techniques. Also, does mastication invalidate the prescription? Two miracles minimum gets you into the sainthood club. Fascinating. A very superficial trawl reveals that the age of miracles is by no means dead, they sprout and flourish everywhere, in manifold guises and belief systems.
Now, a little interfaith dialogue. In 1996, the home of Salim and Ruksana Patel, in Bolton, was inundated with about fifty visitors a day, coming to see their miraculous aubergine. Mrs Patel foresaw the miracle in a dream after she’d bought the aubergine from their local shop. On slicing the vegetable in half, she saw that the seeds were formed in the Muslim symbol “Ya-Allah”, meaning Allah exists. Mr Patel said: “I felt so excited I ran round to the priest and he confirmed that it was indeed a miracle.” Abdulla Patel, priest of the local Masjide-Gosia mosque, said: “In all my years as a priest, I have never witnessed anything like this. It is wonderful for the community, and for Salim …” When the aubergine had been displayed for several weeks in the mosque it was divided into small pieces and shared among the faithful.
Ah. Excellent. No surprises there, then……Fr Galvao died in 1822.