During the early hours of Saturday, June 13, 2009, Brother Miguel (Celestino) Savieto, O.S.B., of São Bento Priory in Vinhedo, passed away in the Intensive Care Unit of Galileu Hospital in Valinhos. Brother Miguel had turned 82 on April 6. He had been in the monastery for 61 years.
Brother Miguel was born in Jundiaí, São Paulo, and he was the sixth child of the fourteen with which Mr. José Savieto and his wife, Antônia Pecorari Savieto were blessed.
Brother Miguel was a seminarian with the Capuchins for three years before entering São Bento Monastery in Vinhedo. During his lifetime, Brother Miguel served his Community and the people of Vinhedo in many capacities. He was always connected to his roots as a farm worker. He cultivated grapes and other fruits for many years, raised sheep, worked at Siloé Retreat Center, managed the monastery kitchen and served as driver for the Community and employees for many decades. In recent years, in spite of his fragile health, Brother Miguel continued to work hard, especially in the persimmon orchard he had cultivated himself, and which helped in the monastery’s upkeep.
A man of strong personality, he could sometimes give a very different impression about who he truly was: a man of God, very generous with the community, sensitive, hard-working, responsible, caring towards the poor (this always done in a discreet and secret way). Above all else, he was a man of prayer.
Brother Miguel rarely missed the Divine Office with his Community, even though he never professed Solemn Vows (the Vows that require that the monks pray the Divine Office every day). He was also fervently devoted to the Holy Rosary and would spend long hours during the day and night before the Blessed Sacrament at prayer.
He suffered from diabetes and underwent heart surgery a few years ago. He battled prostate cancer two years ago and, more recently, suffered with respiratory illness due to congestive heart failure.
On May 6, 2009, Brother Miguel was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit of Galileu Hospital, still conscious, and had the grace of being anointed by Abbot Joaquim Zamith before slipping into a coma. He passed away on Saturday, June 13, in spite of all the efforts on the part of his doctors.
With Brother Miguel’s passing, the final link between the current Benedictine Community of São Bento Priory and its origins is broken. Brother Miguel entered the monastery when it had already been relocated from Santos to Vinhedo (1948), but the community was still composed of all German monks. Later the monks came from Saint Vincent Archabbey who, over almost 40 years, built the new monastery, Siloé Retreat Center and several faith communities throughout the region.
Brother Miguel’s body was received at São Bento Priory at 10:00a.m. on Saturday, June 13, and viewing took place in the monastic Chapter Room, where his confreres, family and friends gathered to pay him their final respects. At 3:30 p.m. that same day, Brother Miguel’s body was carried in procession to the monastery chapel, where his coffin was laid next to the paschal candle, symbol of resurrection and life, for the funeral Mass.
At the end of Mass, Brother Miguel’s body was taken to the monastic cemetery. There, under the light of a beautiful sunset, Brother Miguel’s body was returned to the land he loved so much and where he had toiled all his life. At this moment, the monastery bells which had been tolling a somber chime, began to toll joyfully to express the hope of the resurrection—that day when all tears will dry up and there will be no more suffering and pain: the day in which Brother Miguel had always believed and hoped for and that we ask will now shine upon him.