The world could one day get a patron saint of surfing now that the Vatican is considering a Brazilian man known as the “Surfer Angel” for sainthood.
Guido Schäffer, a doctor, took to the waves to connect to God; he helped others do the same.
“Surfing for him was a totally heavenly experience,” Eduardo Martins, a close friend of Schäffer’s, told PRI’s The World. “In the water, he could feel God, he could talk to God, and in fact, I learned with him to pray before going surfing... Surfing a tube was the perfect experience, because it was like being embraced by God in the water.”
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It was at Martin’s bachelor party in 2009 that Schäffer, who was 34, drowned while surfing off the coast of Barra da Tijuca, shortly before he was to be ordained as a minister.
Since then, people in the area have come to follow him, pray to him and bring him gifts. Some even claim that he has saved tenuous pregnancies or helped women to become pregnant.
In November, the Holy See issued a "nihil obstat," or no objection, document, beginning the process of canonization. In January, the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave permission to Rio priests to investigate evidence of Shäffer’s holiness.
John Lyons, who wrote an article about Schäffer for the Wall Street Journal, told HuffPost Live that many people in Rio believe it's an act of God that Schäffer was killed while surfing.
The canonization process can take decades. The first step is to be proclaimed a "servant of God" and beatified. Miracles performed by Schäffer still have to be investigated.
While the decision to allow Rio priests to submit evidence is an “enormous step” in becoming a saint, Lyons told HuffPost Live, it doesn’t guarantee sainthood.