When he was alive, Brazil’s Guido Schaffer was often referred to as the Angel Surfista, or Surfer Angel, because of his work with the poor and homeless.
Now, more than five years after the seminarian drowned in a surfing accident, the process has begun to have him considered for sainthood.
The Catholic News Agency reported this week that the beatification process has been approved, and is being handled by the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.
Documents showing that Schaffer “lived in accord with the teachings of the Church” have been delivered to the Vatican. The Holy See has not objected to sainthood proceedings.
Schaffer was 34 when he died in May of 2009, while surfing at Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. The accident occurred just weeks before he was to become an ordained priest.
“He was very sensitive toward others and was a man of great faith and was passionate for the word of God,” Father Roberto Lopes, episcopal vicar for the causes of saints in the archdiocese, said last May.
Schaffer is from a well-off family—the son of a physician—but the Surfer Angel expressed little interest in material goods, and hoped to serve in the medical field after attaining priesthood.
“On the day of his burial, the Church of Our Lady of Copacabana was filled with bishops, priests, and many believers who saw him a young man who was different and deeply loved God,” Father Lopes continued.
Schaffer’s work with the poor was of particular benefit to Brazil’s native tribes.
But Schaffer also was passionate about surfing, which he considered a pure expression of one’s self, and he inspired young people to take up the sport.
Father Lopes added that Schaffer’s life still “inspires more and more young people to follow the way of holiness while continuing to do everything that young people do.”
Schaffer was born on May 22, 1974, in Volta Redonda, Brazil. He began caring for the homeless through the Missionaries of Charity. He joined the Saint Joseph Seminary, in Rio de Janeiro, in 2008.