Antonio de Santa’Anna Galvao was elevated to sainthood on Friday as Pope Benedict XVI pronounced the 18th-century Franciscan monk as the first native-born Brazilian to receive the formal recognition.
Popularly known as Frei Galvao, the man credited with over 5,000 miracle cures had been beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
Galvao began the practice of handing out rice-paper pills with a prayer inscribed to those seeking cures for their ailments. While he died two days before Christmas in 1822 the tradition has continued through the work of Brazilian nuns in the monastery in which Galvao is buried.
The canonization set off celebrations throughout Brazil, the world’s largest Roman Catholic country. Hundreds of thousands from across South America have come out to witness Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit.