Pope Benedict presided over the canonization of an 18th century Franciscan friar yesterday in Brazil. There was an estimated one million faithful on hand to attend the Mass.
Pope's Benedict's speech here
Blessed Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão (1739-1822) lived a heroic life of faith in Christ. "He was renowned as a counselor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and the sick. He was greatly sought out as a confessor, because he was zealous, wise and prudent," the pope* said.
His canonization is based on the documentation of miracles that have been attributed to his intercession. In his lifetime, he would give tiny “pills” to people seeking healing. They were prayers printed on rice paper and rolled up into a pill form. These pills are still being made and handed out by an order of nuns in Brazil and two of three recently documented miracles form part of the basis for his canonization.
Our Western “post–enlightened” sensibilities are often offended by what appears externally to be mere religious superstition. In the wake of Dr. Beckwith's conversion, I have seen blogs with detracting comments about "these superstitious Catholic practices." I would like to make a few points about this.
1) The healing occurs, not as a result of the “magic pill”, but through the faith of the recipient who trusts in God to hear the prayers of St. Galvao. St. Galvao , a created being, has no power to heal. He has "God's ear" in heaven though and his prayers obviously have been fervent and effectual.
2) The Bible contains more than one story of God’s people being told to place unusual objects in their mouth!
3) The paper pills have no miraculous power themselves. For example, a pet dog accidentally ingesting one of these pills would not be miraculously healed (because the dog can’t pray and have faith, as far as we know). However, if God chose to heal the dog, who am I to question his actions?
4) God works through the stuff of earth and allows His grace and power to be displayed through, mud, blood, spit, hankies, shadows, and yes even paper pills!
(Mt. 9:20-21;22) - And behold, a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment....and the woman was made whole from that hour. (It was not the garment that made this woman well but the holiness of Jesus).
(Mt. 9:20-21;22) - ...And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
(Acts 19:11-12) - And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
(Acts 5:15-16) - Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them (Even Peter's shadow was enough to heal those who were sick. It was not Peter that healed those in which his shadow was cast, but it was God working through Peter).
*Note, that the comments of Pope Benedict regarding St. Galvao were focused on his holiness and devotion to Christ and not the miracles.