Father José de Anchieta

Diário da Assembléia. Speech by Congressman Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on Father Anchieta, at the Constituent Assembly, Rio de Janeiro, March 17, 1934





Reflecting the unanimous sentiment of the population of São Paulo, which, in addition to recognizing in Anchieta a reason of legitimate pride for the whole of Brazil, feels especially close to him for the glorious role he played in the foundation of Sao Paulo;

Whereas on March 19, the Brazilian people, justly enthusiastic, will celebrate the Fourth Centenary of Anchieta with jubilant celebrations highly expressive of the admiration they have for the Apostle of the New World;

Whereas the Provisional Government has already associated itself to these celebrations by declaring March 19 a national holiday;

Whereas the Constituent Assembly, in its turn, cannot fail to render homage with admiration to the merits and services of Father José de Anchieta, indelibly inscribed with gratitude in all Brazilian hearts:

We request that in the minutes of today’s works, the Constituent Assembly record the profound recognition of the Brazilian Nation to him who dedicated all the treasures of his invincible virtue and fruitful ingenuity, raising our history, right from its first pages, to a degree of beauty that no other nation, not even among the most famous and ancient, can boast of having surpassed.

Assembly Floor, March 17, 1934 – Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira – Alcântara Machado – Cincinato Braga – A. Moraes Andrade.

Mr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira – I ask to speak.

Mr. President – The noble Congressman is allowed to speak and lead the vote. 

Mr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (to lead the vote) reads this speech:

Mr. President: Having received from the bench to which I am honored to belong, the task of briefly directing the vote, I want to point out before this August Assembly the timeliness and entire reasonableness of paying a special tribute to Anchieta, I was gripped by the harrowing persuasion that I had an impossible task.

Indeed, would it not be a temerity to praise virtues to which the admiration of the Brazilian people has already reached an apogee; to magnify deeds and results which have already produced the greatest of glorifications, in such a way that a most eloquent voice becomes weak in the face of events which raise his praise above any praise; is it not reckless to do so, especially in the midst of an Assembly in which so many illustrious minds have already applied their talent to celebrate Anchieta in works of undeniable value?

Involuntarily, there came to my mind the question that the Apostle of the New World placed in the introduction to the poem he wrote on the white sand of a São Paulo beach, “Sileam an loquar, Sanctissima Mater.”

He knew how to find his own accents to praise the highest of creatures, the One who, sung by the prophets before her birth, was called Blessed by all the generations that followed.

Shall I also look for new words to celebrate him who, in the greatness of his virtues and in the power of his genius, appears to be a living blessing from the One whom he sung with such love?

No. Praise is necessary only when forgetfulness begins to cover with its moss a glorious memory, or when slander covers with mud an immaculate reputation.

Neither oblivion nor calumny can diminish the brightness of Anchieta’s glory. Today, he shines like a sun in the zenith of Brazilian History.

His figure stands at the wellhead of our history, presiding over the formation of nationality, with his heroic vigor and virtue as a saint.

Similar figures, who we see at the source of a great number of famous nations, usually shine with the aggressive ardor of wild and implacable heroes, conquering celebrity, now in just wars, now in unqualified acts of prey.

Their existence is debated, and their grandeurs are fantasies woven by nationalistic pride, which dissipate entirely with an impartial study of history. And this is true from Romulus all the way to William Tell.

Anchieta, on the contrary, entered History in a triumphal carriage that was not pulled by prisoners and the vanquished; it was not a cortege displaying pain, or playing war hymns to celebrate his triumph; nor was he vested in a coat of armor.

Mr. Arruda Falcão – Anchieta’s illustrious figure is renewed in every step of our history.

Mr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira – He was dressed in the white tunic of his immaculate innocence.

In his peaceful procession was a race he had drawn out of the wild and defended against captivity; an entire Nation which he helped to build for the greater glory of God, softening the rancor of men and beasts to fulfill the Gospel promise: ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’

I expressed myself poorly, Mr. President, when I said that no pain had appeared in his triumphal procession: pain was the aura that surrounded him. His was the Christian pain of the pelican, which fills martyr and saint with bitterness, but bathes in suavity all those who approach them.

He had spent his life distributing roses…and kept the thorns for himself, in the labors of the apostolate.

In Anchieta, vas electionis [vase of election], there sprouted a flower of virtue which he sowed all over Brazil: it is the gentle meekness linked to the serene yet inexorable energy which is the axis of our soul.

In his book on Anchieta, says Celso Vieira, there is a mountain on Canary Island from the summit of which the traveler can see, thanks to a curious visual phenomenon, his own figure projected in seven colors on the sky; a magnificent vision of glory.

Anchieta is the culminating figure of our History. And the visual phenomenon that Celso Vieira describes is nothing but a grandiose symbol of his own destiny and that of the Nation he was to found.

At the present moment, in its historical journey, Brazil has reached a culmination from which you see at the same time, tortuous paths that lead to dark valleys, and luminous paths pointing to new climbs.

It is fitting, then, that at this hour of tremendous responsibility, we should temper our fiber in a grateful contemplation of the greatest figure of our past; and turning our gaze from the abysses that call us, lift up our eyes to God with confidence, seeing projected in seven colors, on the sky of the future, our motherland exalted by the full accomplishment of her providential historical mission.

(applause and greetings to the speaker)