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Dom Vital – I

Formation & Consecration as Bishop

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
On July 4, 1878, Dom Vital Maria Gonçalvez de Oliveira, Bishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, died at 33 years of age in the Monastery of the Capuchin Friars of Paris. His death was a consequence of breathing the poison that the Masons had put in the paint in the cell where he was imprisoned for several years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

dom vital

Dom Vital Maria Gonçalvez de Oliveira

You certainly remember the face of Dom Vital as it appears in pictures. You will note that he is a powerful man, a man of great physical strength and great strength of soul, but he has nothing coarse or rude about him. His features are regular, well composed, not delicate, but common. His eyes slant upward a bit, which often reveals perspicacity and intelligence; one could say he has the gaze of an eagle that sees far beyond the reality around him. These are eyes that fully analyze anyone who appears before him.

In psychology many experts give importance to how the neck rests on the body – how the neck sets on the body and how the head sets on the neck. There is certain equilibrium between the head and the neck and the way the neck carries the weight of the head that can reveal many things about the temperament of a man.

In Dom Vital the neck supports the head like a bust on a monument. It is erect, solid; the head seems to have no weight. The neck does not bend forward revealing insecurity; at the same time, it reveals no arrogance by tilting backwards. He has a type of strength that reminds me of a fortress.

The beard flows from his face like a cascade; it is the full beard of a patriarch even though he was still young. The beard gives the impression of a very virile man. Contrasting with this, his complexion is very light, giving the impression of a noble nature. His hands, by the way, were famous for being very elegant.

My grandmother knew Dom Vital here in São Paulo because he was a Capuchin missionary in a church close to the Railway Station in the neighborhood of Light (Estação da Luz). She attended his consecration as a Bishop in the old Cathedral in 1872. She used to describe how after he was consecrated, he went out of the church to give his first episcopal blessing to the people and everyone knelt. Seeing that ceremony all the ladies commented on how handsome his hands were… It is a comment that reflects the romantic mentality of the 19th century.

dom vital seminarian

Antonio, the seminarian who would take the name of Vital Maria at his profession as Capuchin Friar

But his hands were not small and delicate; they were large hands made to handle a sword, a standard or a staff. They were the hands of a hero, of a vigorous man made for combat. In the photo of Dom Vital as a seminarian we can see his long hands without the artistic touch-ups that seem to appear in later pictures.

Some time ago I read a biography about him and it reports that from his childhood he used to take a stand against things that were badly done around him and express his criticism. His interventions were so sudden and clear-cut that even as a child he was nicknamed the “astounding man,” which was precisely how the Bible describes the Prophet Isaiah: an astounding man. The relatives of young Antonio – the future Dom Vital – gave him this name because of the strong and militant positions he used to take.

This man so marked for the fight received a missionary vocation. It is interesting to see in his formation how Our Lady prepared him for the destruction of the evil of Freemasonry by means of the defects of that evil, that is, the liberal attitudes of some Freemasons. At that time the head of the Brazilian Empire was Emperor Pedro II. For reasons too long to explain here, the Emperor retained a certain power over the Church regarding Bishops, priest and seminarians. And so Pedro II gave permission for the religious orders to send some of their seminarians and novices to study in Europe.

Thus, the future Dom Vital was sent to study in the Seminary of St. Sulpice, which was an ultramontane seminary in Paris. There he embraced the very good ideas of that counter-revolutionary movement.

He returned to Brazil and entered into contact with Councilor João Alfredo Corrêa de Oliveira [a grand-uncle of Prof. Plinio], who was a minister of the Empire. João Alfredo never dreamed that the obscure young friar serving in São Paulo could become an ultramontane Bishop. So, he convinced the imperial government to request the Church to promote him to a Bishopric.

Unexpectedly it happened. Dom Vital was designated for the see of Olinda and Recife. In those liberal times no one could imagine that Olinda and Recife would be given to an ultramontane Bishop. Thus you see that the Revolution committed an enormous mistake with Dom Vital: from the permission he received to study in France as a seminarian to his consecration of Bishop and his appointment over Olinda and Recife. It was a complete miscalculation.

Old Cathedral of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil

At right, the old Cathedral of São Paulo, today demolished, where Dom Vital was consecrated Bishop

Well, once assigned to that important see, he found it in the terrible situation you know. Freemasonry was invading the clergy and the religious orders so that the Catholic institutions were filled with Masons and Freemasonry was loaded with Catholics.

Later, Dom Vital explained that he did not have sufficient evidence to demonstrate definitively that this was the situation; consequently, he had to wait until he had gathered enough proof in order to attack. He said that he prayed day and night before the Blessed Sacrament begging Our Lord to have pity on his Diocese and give him the means to detonate a great crisis that would clarify and separate the fields of the Church and Freemasonry. He envisaged a great blow to cleanse the Catholic milieu of that nefarious influence and bring Catholics to the correct position of detesting Masonry.

I do not recall the details, but at a certain point the Masonic newspapers of Recife started to boast that there were priests in Freemasonry. This was the opportunity Dom Vital needed. He initiated a judicial process against one of those papers calling for it to publish the names of the priests. The newspaper was obliged to do so and the names of all priests who were Masons came to light. With this, he had the evidence for which he was praying, and his combat started.

Continued

Posted June 17, 2015


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