Blessed André de Soveral, SJ
Martyr of Rio Grande do Norte



Blessed André de Soveral, SJ on a Brazil cancel
BRAZIL, 2000, special cancel for the beatification of the 30 Martyrs of Rio Grande do Norte

Blessed André de Soveral, SJ was born around 1572 in Sao Vicente, Brazil, the principal town on the island of Santos. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1593 and made his novitiate in Bahia. After studying Latin and moral theology, and learning the Indios' language, he was sent to the college of Olinda, a catechetical center for the Indios throughout the region. His first missionary experience was in Rio Grande do Norte in 1606 among the Potiguar Indios. By 1614 he was pastor in Cunhau. On Sunday, 16 July 1645, Fr. André de Soveral and 69 of the faithful, mostly farmers and workers employed in Cunhau's sugar cane factory, had gathered for Mass at Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel in Cunhau. After the consecration a band of Dutch Calvinist soldiers burst into the chapel, blocked the exits, attacked the defenseless faithful, and killed Fr. André. About three months later on 3 October 1645 on the banks of the Uruaqu River, about 12 miles from Natal, the diocesan priest, Fr. Ambrosio Francisco Ferro and his parishioners were forced by the Dutch Calvinist authorities to a prearranged site where many were tortured with their priest in various ways until they died. Those martyred in these two related events include 27 Brazilians, one Portuguese, one Spaniard and one Frenchman. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 3, 2000.