A surfing saint? Pope Francis recognises the heroic virtue of Guido Schäffer

The Catholic Church is one step closer to canonising a surfing saint. Pope Francis recognised the heroic virtue of Brazil’s “Surfer Angel”, Guido Schäffer, in a decree issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on May 20.

Schäffer was a seminarian, a doctor, and a surfer who drowned while surfing in 2009 off the coast of Rio de Janeiro at the age of 34 before he could fulfil his desire of being ordained to the priesthood.

Known locally as the “Anjo Surfista” or “Surfer Angel,” Schäffer began each surfing lesson with a prayer. He was known for his work with the poor, providing medical care to Rio’s “favelas” (poor, working-class neighbourhoods) alongside the Missionaries of Charity.

With the decree, Pope Francis declared Schäffer “venerable.” The church will now need to approve a miracle attributed to his intercession before he can be beatified.

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