Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The beatification of Marcello Candia is fast approaching. Pope Francis has in fact authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to publish the decree recognising the "heroic virtues" of the "Servant of God Marcello Candia, Italian lay person," who was born in Portici (Italy) 27 July 1916 and died in Milan (Italy) 31 August 1983.
A great lay missionary, known as the "Dr Schweitzer of the Amazon," he came to Brazil at the request of Father Aristide Pirovano, a PIME missionary who later became a bishop.
In the South American country, he set up a hospital in Macapá, a leprosarium in Marituba and twelve other works, including hospitals, schools, villages, leper hospitals, convents, seminaries, churches, and voluntary associations.
Born into a family of Milanese industrialists, educated in faith and charity especially by his mother, he graduated in chemistry, biology, and then pharmacy.
As a young man, he set up the 'Lay people association to help the missions' (Associazione laici in aiuto alle Missioni, ALAM), which he ran for 20 years.
During World War II, he served in the Italian military. He later joined the Italian Resistance, helping Jewish refugees. At the end of the war, he also helped Italian deportees in Germany.
Encouraged by the then Archbishop of Milan, the future Pope Paul VI, he met Fr Pirovano, an event that changed his life.
In 1957, he went to Brazil for the first time, in Macapá, in the Amazon, Fr Pirovano's diocese.
In 1961, he laid the first stone for a local hospital, which would be followed by other works.