This 9-year-old cancer patient who ‘never complained’ is now on the path to sainthood
A view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, April 14, 2016. ALEXEY GOTOVSKIY/CNA
By Courtney Grogan
Catholic News Agency
April 9, 2019
VATICAN— Pope Francis Monday recognized the heroic virtue of nine-year old Brazilian boy, who “never complained” during cancer treatments, but instead offered his suffering to Jesus.
Diagnosed in 1963 with osteosarcoma, Nelson Santana, then eight years old, asked his mother in the hospital one day to “promise Jesus not to complain in the face of suffering and pain.”
A nurse and religious sister who cared for Santana noted the child’s “extraordinary ability” to understand the meaning of the suffering of Christ. The sister ensured Santana continued to receive religious instruction in the hospital, where he also received his first communion.
When told that his cancerous arm had to be amputated, Santana responded that “pain is very important to increase true love and courageously maintain the love already conquered.”
Santana died of cancer on Christmas Eve 1964 at the age of nine.
The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized the heroic virtue of Santana and six other Servants of God, advancing them along the path to sainthood as “venerable.”
Pope Francis authorized the congregation to promulgate the decree April 6.
Another Brazilian’s cause for sainthood also advanced with the decree. The Vatican approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of an early 20th century Brazilian priest, Venerable Donizetti Tavares de Lima, who can now be beatified.
The heroic virtue of Brother Damiao de Bozzano, an Italian Capuchin friar and missionary to Brazil; Father Carlo Cavina, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Francis de Sales; Capuchin Father Raffaele da Sant’Elia a Pianisi; French Friar Victorin Nymphas Arnaud Pagés of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools; Capuchin Poor Clare Sister Consolata Betrone; and layperson Gaetana “Nuccia” Tolomeo were also recognized in the decree.