Hello friend of Spiritist Content, today we are going to talk about who Bezerra de Menezes was: great exponent of the Spiritist Doctrine, doctor, military, writer, journalist, politician and philanthropist. Get to know the biography of Adolfo Bezerra de Menezes, or also known as “doctor of the poor”, in this article.
Who was Adolfo Bezerra de Menezes?
Adolfo Bezerra de Menezes Cavalcanti was born on August 29, 1831 in the small town of Riacho do Sangue, in the state of Ceará, Brazil.
Doctor and politician
- Surgeon-Lieutenant of the Corpo de Saúde do Exército (Army Health Corps).
- Effective partner of the National Academy of Medicine.
- Councilor and President of the Câmara Municipal da Corte (Court City Council).
- Member of the Câmara Federal (Federal Chamber).
- Effective and honorary member of the Sociedade Auxiliadora da Indústria Nacional (Auxiliary Society of the National Industry).
- Member of the Council and Benemérite Partner of the Sociedade Propagadora de Belas Artes (Propagating Society of Fine Arts).
- Member of the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios (School of Arts and Crafts).
- President of the Sociedade de Beneficência Cearense (Cearan Charitable Society).
- President of the Federação Espírita Brasileira (Brazilian Spirit Federation) in 1889
- Vice-President in 1890 and 1891.
- And again, the President from 1895 until his discarnation in 1900.
Writer and Journalist
As a writer, he wrote:
- The romances Lázzaro, o Leproso e A Casa Asombrada (Lazarus, the Leper and The Haunted House).
- He was also the author of A Loucura Sob Novo Prisma (Madness under a New Prism).
- A Philosophical psychic study.
- A Letter from Bezerra de Menezes, expressing his profession of faith.
- And also Philosophical Studies, two volumes that contain most of his articles published in the newspaper “O País”, among others.
Philanthropist and exponent of the Spiritist Doctrine
He was also a philanthropist and a great exponent of the Spiritist Doctrine. He became known as the “doctor of the poor” and discarnated on April 11, 1900 in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Biography of Bezerra de Menezes
When he was seven he joined the public school in Vila do Frade, a locality close to Riacho do Sangue, where in ten months he learned the principles of elementary education.
At eleven Bezerra enrolled in Latin public class, in Serra dos Martins, Rio Grande do Norte, where he lived with his family since 1842. Two years later, he was already substituting the class teacher when for some reason he had to leave.
In 1846 his family returned to Ceará establishing their residence in the capital, Fortaleza, and Bezerra enrolled in Liceu do Ceará where he completed his preparatory studies.
The doctor Dr. Bezerra de Menezes
In 1851, the year when his father died, he moved to Rio de Janeiro and started his studies at the College of Medicine.
In November of the following year he joined as resident in Santa Casa de Misericórdia’s hospital in Rio de Janeiro. In order to provide for his studies he gave private lessons in philosophy and mathematics.
He graduated in 1856 with his thesis defense: “Cancer Diagnosis.” In that year, the Governo Imperial decreed the reform of the Corpo de Saúde do Exército (Brazilian Army’s Health Corps), and appointed Dr. Manuel Feliciano Pereira Carvalho as Master Surgeon, his former professor, who invited him to work as his assistant.
In 1858, he applied to a position as a teacher’s substitute in the Area of Surgery at the College of Medicine of Rio de Janeiro. In that same year he was officially nominated to assistant of the Corpo de Saúde do Exército (Brazilian Army’s Health Corps) at the rank of Lieutenant Surgeon and on November the 6th, married Maria Candida de Lacerda, who later on died of sudden illness on 24 March 1863 leaving him with two children, a three and a one year old.
Editor of the Anais Brasilienses de Medicina
In the period from 1859 to 1861 he became the editor of the Anais Brasilienses de Medicina, the National Academy of Medicine’s newspaper.
In 1865, he married Cândida Augusta de Lacerda Machado on second nuptials, who was his first wife’s sister from mother’s side and had taken care of his children until then. Together they had seven more children.
Doctor of the poor
Because of his role as a charitable doctor, attending to people who needed care but couldn’t afford it, Bezerra donated his medical degree ring to a mother so that she could buy medicines to her son. He had as the guiding principle of his life the following instruction:
“The real doctor is this: he has no right to finish his meal, to choose the time, to inquire if it is far or near… Those who do not help because they are entertaining guests or because he has worked and is fatigued or being high at night, bad the way and the weather, being near or far from the hill; what mainly asks for a car from someone who doesn’t have to pay the prescription, or tells someone who cries at the door to look for another one – this is not a doctor, he is a medicine dealer, who works to collect capital and interest on graduation expenses”.
Bezerra de Menezes in Politics
At the end of the 1850s, the Câmara Municipal do Município Neutro had as its president Roberto Jorge Haddock Lobo of the Conservative Party. By the same time, Bezerra de Menezes stood out for his professional work and for his work aimed at the poor.
Thus, in 1860, at a political meeting, some friends proposed the candidacy of Bezerra de Menezes for the Liberal Party as a representative to the Câmara of the parish of São Cristóvão, where he then resided. Once he became aware of the nomination, Bezerra initially refused to accept that responsability, but because of his friends’ insistence, he finally committed only in not making any public declaration refusing the votes casted on him.
Election and dismissal
After the polls were open and votes were counted, Bezerra had been elected. His opponents, led by Haddock Lobo, contested his tenure on the grounds that Second Class military personnel could not serve as councilman. Thus, to support the Party, which needed him to obtain a majority in the Chamber, he decided to request resignation from the Health Corps. Once the impediment was removed, he was sworn in the same year.
He was re-elected councilor for the Câmara Municipal do Município Neutro, for the period from 1864 to 1868.
Deputy, councilor and president
In 1866, he was elected as a Provincial Deputy for Rio de Janeiro despite the opposition of the then Prime Minister Zacarias de Góis and the Liberal leaders — senator Bernardo de Sousa Franco and deputy Francisco Otaviano de Almeida Rosa. Sworn in 1867, the Chamber of Deputies was dissolved the following year (1868) due to the rise of the Conservative Party.
He returned to politics as a councilman in the period from 1873 to 1885, occupying several times the role of interim president of the Municipal Chamber, taking effect in July 1878, a position that would currently correspond to that of Mayor.
He was elected as a general deputy for the Province of Rio de Janeiro from 1877 to 1885 when his political career came to an end. During this period, he worked as a president for both the Chamber and the Municipal Executive Power. Some pioneering initiatives stand out from his works as a deputy:
- Pushing through the bill to regulate domestic work, with the aim of granting this category, inclusive, 30 days’ notice period.
- Pointing out the dangers of pollution that already in those times affected the population of Rio de Janeiro and promoting measures to fight it.
From 1882, he was a member of the Public Works, Writing and Budget Commissions.
Bezerra de Menezes and the Spiritist Doctrine
Bezerra became acquainted with the spirit doctrine when the Portuguese translation of “The Spirits Book” was launched in 1875 thanks to a dedicated copy that was given to him by its translator, also a doctor, Dr. Joaquim Carlos Travassos. Regarding his impressions about the book, Bezerra records:
“He gave me the book in the city, and I lived in Tijuca, about an hour away by tram. I was carrying the book with me and because I did not have any other distraction during the trip I said to myself: Oh, God! I will certainly not go to hell for reading this… And after all, it will be embarrassing to have to declare myself ignorant of this philosophy when I have been dedicating myself to the study of all philosophical schools. With this thought, I opened the book and I immediately became fascinated by it — in the same way that happened to me when I read the Bible. I kept on reading, but I couldn’t find anything that was new to my Spirit. However, all that was new to me!… I had already read or heard everything that was in the “The Spirits’ Book”. I was quite amazed with that wonderful fact and I said to myself: it seems that I was a spiritist without knowing it, or as people usually say, I was born a spiritist”.
In 1882 saw the “extraordinary healings” of the medium João Gonçalves do Nascimento and that contributed to his adhesion to the doctrine.
He started writing spiritist articles in the Reformador, a newspaper launched in 1883 by Augusto Elias da Silva.
On the 16th of August 1886, at the age of fifty-five and after studying for some years Allan Kardec’s works, before a large public — estimated, according to his biographers between 1,500 and 2,000 people, he gave a long speech at the Guarda Velha’s conference room, in Rio de Janeiro, justified his choice to embrace Spiritism.
“O País” newspaper
This event was even referred by “O País”, the most popular newspaper of the time.
The following year he started to write for the “Spiritism – Philosophical Studies”, a regular Sunday section of “O País” under the pseudonym “Max”. This was requested by the Commission of Dissemination of the Spiritist Center União Espírita do Brasil and lasted from 23 October 1887 to December 1893.
In the 1880s, the incipient spiritist movement in the capital and in the country, was marked by the dispersion of its followers and the entities in which they met. There was a clear division between two ‘groups’ of spiritists: the ones who accepted Spiritism religious aspect (this was the largest group and which included Bezerra) and those who did not accept Spiritism in this respect.
In 1889 Bezerra was perceived as the only one capable of overcoming divisions and was elected as president of the Federação Espírita Brasileira.
In that period he began the systematic study of “The Spirits Book” in public meetings on Fridays, and then started writing the Reformador; he also worked as a counselor for obsessor spirits during mediumship sessions.
President of the National Spiritist Congress
He organized and headed a National Spiritist Congress with an attendance of 34 delegations from institutions of several states. He took over the presidency of the Spiritist Center União Espírita do Brasil on April 21 and on 22 December 1890 he officiated to the then República’s president, Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, in defense of the rights and freedom of the spiritists against certain articles of the Brazilian Criminal Code of 1890.
From 1890 to 1891 he was vice-president of the FEB (Federação Espírita Brasileira) managed by Francisco de Menezes Dias da Cruz and during this time the book “Obras Póstumas” (Posthumous Works) by Allan Kardec, was translated and published (1892). At the end of 1891 there were major internal disagreements among the spiritists and strong attacks on the movement from the outside.
Bezerra de Menezes moved away for some time but continued to attend Grupo Ismael’s meetings and the weekly writings of the articles in “O País” which concluded at the end of 1893. As the discord within the institution was getting worse, he was invited to resume the presidency of the FEB in 1895. In this administration he started the weekly study of “The Gospel according to Spiritism”, founded the first spiritist bookstore in the country and the institution was linked to Grupo Ismael and to Assistência aos Necessitados.
Bezerra and Kardec
Due to his outstanding performance in the Spiritist movement of the Brazilian capital in the last quarter of the 19th century, Bezerra de Menezes was considered to be a model to many, especially for the spiritists. His immense love for Jesus, Mary, the Holy Mother and his neighbor, his caring nature, perseverance and loving willingness to overcome the challenges were features that added to his activism in the spreading and restructuring of the spiritist movement in the country and as a tribute for the important role he played he was dubbed as the “Brazilian Kardec”.
Bezerra continues to support and guide his brothers of the way who through successive reincarnations continue developing the potential they have as children of God, heading therefore towards perfection. Bezerra is also chosen as a benefactor by a very large number of spiritist institutions throughout Brazil and in the rest of the world who use his name as their own as a sign of respect.
The Disincarnation of Bezerra de Menezes and the Awakening in the Spirit World
Reaching high spiritual ranks and achieving nobility titles due to a long life fully devoted to the good and the neighbor, following the example of great figures of humanity by forgetting about himself, the “doctor of the poor” awoke in the grave beyond, in the life that continues —which happened rapidly due to his last experience in the body in which he lived totally detached from matter, aware of the greatest goals in life: to love and to serve. Bezerra is awakened from the lethargic process by some selected noble spirits and informed him of his return to the spiritual homeland.
It is then, when through a window he referred to a noise coming from the outside and to which his friends invited him to come close to the window and see for himself. As he gets closer Bezerra is taken by a great surprise when he meets an endless crowd. He asked his friends about them.
And these kind angels told him that some of them were people whose path had crossed with his on Earth and had received his help, his tenderness, his love; and the rest of them were friends and relatives of all those who in one way or another had been helped by him, Bezerra, demonstrating the long reach and the infinite ties of the Universal family that Jesus referred to.
Bezerra de Menezes is still today bound to planet Earth —blessed school of souls, working to help us all with our various difficulties and countless imperfections; his brothers from the rear; and through the blessed mediumship of Divaldo Pereira Franco, the “Trumpet of Christ” or the “Gospel’s Herald”, our dear benefactor Dr. Bezerra, as he is affectionately known, appears at some spiritist events bringing his words of comfort, stimulation and guidance so to reassure us that the Master of Masters, the Friend of the Non-Friends, Jesus, did not leave us orphans.
– Lindos Casos de Bezerra de Menezes (Beautiful cases of Bezerra de Menezes)– Lake Publishing company– 12th Edition.