Father Francisco de Paula Victor is a man of many firsts. He will be the first black Brazilian to be beatified. He's also the first slave-turned-priest to be raised to the altars.
He was born in 1827 as a child of slaves. He trained to work as a tailor while dreaming of becoming a priest. This was supposed to be impossible at the time for someone of his background, but he made it happen.
"They had to grant special permission for him to study. He could enter the seminary but had many difficulties, because he was not accepted mainly because of his color and because of being a slave.”
And when he was finally ordained a priest, the people at the first parish he was assigned to did not accept him.
"When he arrived, they rejected him. There was a a very difficult moment that happened and that made an impact and it was when they refused to accept Communion from his hands.”
Paulo Vilotta is the postulator of his cause. He says that Father Victor used humility, faith, and patience to overcome racism and prejudice and to win over everyone.
"With his love, embodying the Gospel in his own life, he was capable of winning over the people. When someone wanted Father Victor to transfer to another church, there was a great protest that kept him at the parish.”
Further, he built a large school where a mixture of people studied together: poor and rich, white and black. He was convinced faith and culture could strengthen society.
He died in 1905, well-known for his holiness. He will be beatified in a large ceremony in the Brazilian city of Tres Pontas, where he was pastor for more than 50 years.