Saints are just like you and me: Just ask their friends
José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro | Wikipedia | CC by SA 3.0
<font size="5"><strong> St. Gianna Beretta Molla - patron saint against birth complications
After a cancerous tumor developed in her uterus during pregnancy, Gianna chose the life of her child over her own. She died in 1962 after the healthy birth of her daughter, Gianna Emanuela. </font>
These four accounts prove that the "holy card" images we form of the saints are sadly incomplete.
The word “saint” tends to bring to mind images of people who lived a long time ago and, according to artists’ renderings, literally radiated light from their bodies. These nearly extra-terrestrial humans were always in a church, always looking to the heavens, and of course always had their hands folded in prayer.
But Eduardo Martins knows that is not how you spot a saint. On January 17, 2015, a cause for sainthood was opened for his childhood friend and surfing buddy Guido Schaffer. The late Schaffer was a doctor and seminarian from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who loved to ride the waves at Ipanema Beach. He was killed in a surfing accident in 2009 at the age of 34.
Martins met Schaffer as a young man in the Ipanema neighbourhood where they both grew up. He told Brazil’s Cancao Nova television that he started attending a prayer group at their parish because of Schaffer.
Schaffer had a vibrant personality that drew people to him. Martins said Schaffer eventually had the prayer group going out onto the streets to help people in need. “Imagine a group of young people from Ipanema, the south of Rio, going out to meet people on the streets. Guido dived in … he always had a kind word for the people he met, he would give advice when they needed,” said Martins.
Colleagues who worked with Schaffer at a local hospital before he entered the seminary told the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro they were left in awe because he would see patients that no one else wanted to see, but he did it with tenderness and patience. The result was that patients loved him and asked for him specifically when they needed treatment.
Yet he was a normal young man who would head to the beach in his spare time to catch a few waves. He just happened to have a thirst to do something to serve God and others.
Similarly the people who grew up with St. Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian doctor and mother who chose to carry her fourth pregnancy to term despite having been advised to abort and get treatment for uterine cancer, say she was “one of us.”
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