Vatican – Archbishop Antônio de Almeida Lustosa is Venerable

22 June 2023

(ANS – Vatican City) – On 22 June 2023, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, received in audience Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and during the Audience the Supreme Pontiff authorised the same Dicastery to promulgate the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Antônio de Almeida Lustosa, of the Salesian Society of St John Bosco, Archbishop of Fortaleza; born on 11 February 1886 in São João del Rei (Brazil) and died on 14 August 1974 in Carpina (Brazil).

Antônio de Almeida Lustosa was born in the city of São João del Rei, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, on 11 February 1886, on the anniversary of the first apparition of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, a circumstance that profoundly marked him, offering him a filial devotion to Our Lady, so much so that he was described, when he was a priest, as the poet of the Virgin Mary.

He received a good Christian and human upbringing from his parents . At the age of 16 he entered the Salesian school at Cachoeira do Campo, Minas Gerais, and three years later he was in Lorraine as a novice and assistant to his companions. After his first religious profession, which took place in 1906, he also became a teacher of philosophy, studying theology in the meantime. His perpetual profession takes place three years later, and on 28 January 1912 he received priestly ordination.

After various assignments within his religious Congregation, in 1916 he was Rector and Master of Novices at Lavrinhas, in the Colégio São Manoel. After being Rector at Bagé Mary Help of Christians secondary school and assistant Parish Priest in the attached parish, on 11 February 1925 he was consecrated Bishop of Uberaba, a day chosen by him to remember the presence of Our Lady in his life. In 1928 he was transferred to Corumbá, in the State of Mato Grosso, and in 1931 he was promoted to Archbishop of Belém do Pará, where he remained for 10 years.

On 5 November 1941 he became Archbishop of Fortaleza, capital of the State of Ceará. Together with a large number of initiatives and activities of a social and charitable nature, he erected more than 30 new parishes, 45 schools for the needy, 14 health centres on the outskirts of Fortaleza, the School of Social Services, the São José and Cura d'Ars hospitals, to recall just some of the most important works attributed to his episcopate.

His pastoral activity can be particularly noted for catechetics, education, pastoral visits, the increase in vocations, the value he saw in Catholic Action, improvement of the living conditions of the poorest, his defence of the rights of workers, renewal of the clergy, the establishment of new religious congregations in Ceará, not to mention his rich and fruitful activity as a poet and writer. He founded two religious congregations, the Institute of Cooperators of the Clergy and the Congregation of the Josefinas.

Eleven years after his resignation from the Archdiocese, following which he retired to the Salesian house in Carpina, and forced to be in a wheelchair by a fall that caused him to fracture his femur, he died on 14 August 1974, demonstrating, even during illness and suffering, an exemplary attitude of complete and unconditional acceptance of the will of God. His burial became, to all intents and purposes, a true popular consecration of a life (such was the life of Archbishop Lustosa) entirely devoted to God and the good of his neighbour.

“Archbishop Lustosa" Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, Postulator General of the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family commented “was a great ascetic. He was endowed with an adamantine will that belied the fire that burned within him. He lived poorly: ‘I have nothing,’ he had written in his will. He was a humble man of prayer, dedicated to penance. He knew how to approach everyone, especially the most needy, and was totally dedicated to the cause of the Kingdom of God: ‘I would continue here simply to work for the Our Father: hallowed be your name! Let Your Kingdom come; the program of a bishop is always the same: to fulfill his duty!’”


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