Pope Francis authorised the promulgation of the decree on the heroic virtues of the servant of God Fr. Vítor Coelho de Almeida (1899-1987), professed priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, declaring him Venerable.
Fr. Vítor Coelho de Almeida was born on 22nd September 1899 in Sacramento (MG), to Leao and Maria Sebastiana. At the age of twelve, he entered the Redemptorist seminary in Aparecida. In 1918, he made his religious profession in Perdoes and on 5 August 1924, he was ordained a priest in Gars Am Inn, Germany, where he had moved in 1918 to study philosophy and theology.
Back in Brazil, he dedicated himself to the popular missions, living first in Aparecida (SP) and from 1925 to 1929 in Araraquara (SP). After being in Campinas-Goiânia (GO), he lived in Araraquara and São Paulo from 1933 to 1940.
His generous availability, permeated by his simple style and straightforward language, made him popular in the states of São Paulo, Paraná and Minas Gerais. His intense and clarifying proclamation of the Word of God produced fruits of conversion among the simple and abandoned people. It also stimulated many young people to consider the call to the priesthood and religious life.
Suffering from tuberculosis, in 1941 he was interned in the ‘Divina Providência’ sanatorium in Campos do Jordao (SP). After seven years of painful treatment, endured with evangelical patience, unable to resume his previous apostolic activity due to his compromised health, he returned to Aparecida to work in the Sanctuary.
Thoroughly convinced, as a Redemptorist, of the apostolic choice in favour of the most destitute of human and spiritual help, for 36 years, he did missionary work through “Radio Aparecida”, founded with his contribution in 1951 and of which he was director from 1965 to 1970.
His radio broadcasts and some of his programmes, such as “Os ponteiros apontam para o infinito” (The hands show infinity), “Consagraçao a N. S. ra Aparecida” (Consecration to Our Lady of Aparecida) and “Entrevista com os Romeiros” (Interview with the pilgrims), still remain memorable among the people. Fr. Vítor saw in the technical medium the possibility of making the Word of God reach even those who live in the most remote and abandoned regions of Brazil.
The clear sign that the seed of the Word had fallen into fertile soil could be seen daily. Pilgrims, when they had arrived at the Shrine, and after participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, would ask to meet him to express their anxieties.
On 21 July 1987, following a pulmonary embolism, he died in Guaratinguetá (SP), in the ‘Frei Galvao’ hospital, at the age of 87 years. The news of his death caused a crowd of about twenty thousand people to gather for the funeral, celebrated the following day in the Aparecida Basilica.
The reputation for holiness that Fr Vítor Coelho de Almeida already possessed during his lifetime continued to spread after his death among those who remember and invoke him as “The Apostle of Radio Aparecida”. Numerous graces considered extraordinary are attributed to his intercession.
Fr. Antonio Marrazzo, C.Ss.R.
For a complete history of Father Victor Almeida Coelho de Almeida (Portuguese):