|Monument to Dr. Sousa Martins|
In Lisbon, there is a rather elaborate monument to one of these saints: Dr. José Tomás de Sousa Martins. Although not canonized, his cult is certainly not one which antagonizes the religious and civil authorities, as in the case of Héléna or that of Jesus Malverde in Mexico. These humble cults don't have elaborate shrines or monuments. Doc Martins, on the contrary, is honored with a bit more traditional lavishness.
|Detail of monument with healing serpent (previously on LoS)|
As with all popular saints, the monument cum shrine is adorned with flowers and to one side a large metal cabinet provides a place for the faithful to place votive candles.
|Ex-votos piled knee-high|
So who was he?
Martins was born in Alhandra in 1843, moving to Lisbon where he studied pharmacy and medicine, qualifying for the former in 1864 and the latter in 1866. He practiced in Lisbon, specializing in tuberculosis. His practice was in no way affiliated with church-related philanthropy, but he worked tirelessly for the poor.
According to Wikipedia, Martins was poisoned by an unknown person jealous of his popularity among the medical community. This is a good example of why one needs to take care with Wikipedia (although I freely admit to using it frequently). First of all, if the murderer is unknown, why is the motive stated as a fact, without a caveat such as "Many speculate that...." or some such? More importantly, all the other sources I've consulted, including Portuguese Wikipedia, state that he committed suicide after contracting TB, knowing a protracted and painful death was inevitable. Which -- along with his Freemasonry -- would preclude him from "official" canonization.
He was the author of numerous works and there are many resources out there on the internets, but my Portuguese is too limited to make out the details. I did glean, however, that he was an adherent of spiritualism and after his death other spiritualists began to attribute "miraculous" cures to him via the intercession of mediums. On March 7 (birth) and August 8 (death) thousands flock to this monument to pray. Along with his suicide, these spiritualist associations probably also preclude canonization.
The monument itself was erected 1904; I can only imagine that no one would have guessed it would become the focal point of a new cult for an unlikely saint.
More photos here.