Cool. A seminarian who died while surfing is being considered for sainthood (via the WallStreet Journal):
In January, the Vatican gave permission to Rio priests to gather evidence of Mr. Schäffer’s holiness and present it to the pope, a crucial early step in the sainthood process.
To mark the moment, Mr. Schäffer’s remains were transferred to the Our Lady of Peace Church in the beach town of Ipanema. His surf buddies accompanied the remains atop a firetruck in a lively procession. Several held surfboards aloft. One board said “JESUS IS OUR WAVE” in large black letters.
“For him, surfing was a mystical experience, like prayer. He felt the presence of God in the sea,” said the Rev. Jorge Neves, who mentored Mr. Schäffer at Our Lady of Peace and resembles the actor Forest Whitaker. Mr. Schäffer called his hefty mentor “Big George.”
A giant poster of Mr. Schäffer on his board now hangs on the outside of the Ipanema church. In it, a tanned and athletic Mr. Schäffer has just completed a wave and is riding the foam. The Surfer Angel wears blue board shorts and stares intently into the distance. Passersby cross themselves as they walk the busy sidewalk below the poster.
The notion of a surfing saint may surprise those who think of saints as ancient martyrs or inaccessible holy men. But that is the point, some of Mr. Schäffer’s backers say. In Latin America, among other places, the church needs youthful, contemporary priests and saints to compete with the rise of Evangelical Protestantism, the thinking goes.
“When he died, it was hard to understand. We asked God, why did you take him since, as a priest, he was going to bring so many people to the church?” said the Rev. Roberto Lopes, a Rio de Janeiro priest acting as liaison with the Vatican on Mr. Schäffer’s possible sainthood. “Then we realized: Maybe he will bring even more people to the church as a saint.”
Mr. Schäffer spread the gospel through surfing. Before paddling out, he would pray on the beach with his surf buddies. Often, other beachgoers joined in. Out in the water, he struck up conversations with fellow surfers between the sets. He liked to say that Jesus, who walked on water, was the first surfer.
But he was not just a beach bum. He was a physician, served the poor, and he was close to being ordained when he died. Read more (it may be behind a firewall)…
I just love being Catholic.