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Itanhaém Aims to Attract Tourists as "Apostle of Brazil" Receives Sainthood

03/20/2014 - 09h09

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FROM SÃO PAULO

After a process of canonization that has lasted for more than 400 years, the Spanish missionary José de Anchieta (1534 - 1597) will finally be declared a saint by Pope Francis at the beginning of April.

Known as the founder of the city of São Paulo, the "Apostle of Brazil" travelled through various Brazilian cities in the 16th century. Eventually, he chose to settle in Itanhaém, a coastal city 56 miles from São Paulo, where he lived for 32 years - more than half his life.

As a result, Itanhaém has become a well-known tourist destination, which, with Anchieta's canonization, will undergo a period of revitalization.

In 2013, 3 million tourists visited the city, though the city government is keen to attract even more. "As well as the revitalization, we are organizing events which will pay homage to the priest," says Milton de Campos Júnior, the city's secretary for tourism.

On July 9, the day of Anchieta's death, the First Padre Anchieta Walk will take place (more information will become available in May on the website itanhaem.sp.gov.br/turismo).

Among the main Anchieta-related attractions is a bronze statue sculpted by Luiz Morrone (1906 - 1998) in Narciso de Andrade square, in the city center. Close by, in the Conceição de Itanhaém museum, tourists can see Anchieta's letter of baptism.

In addition, at the point where the Gruta and Sonho beaches meet, there is a rocky formation known as the "Cama de Anchieta" ("Anchieta's Bed"). It was here that the missionary liked to go to think and reflect.

In 2005, a 220-metre footbridge was constructed at the site, in partnership with the government of the Canary Islands, where Anchieta was born.

On the Cibratel beach is the Pocinho de Anchieta ('Anchieta's Well'), which, according to legend, was built by Indians on Anchieta's orders, with the aim of catching fish during the winter months.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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