Adolfo Bezerra de Menezes Cavalcanti
( 29.08.1831 – 11.04.1900)
After the Imperial Government reformed the Army’s Health Brigade, Professor Feliciano de Carvalho was nominated Surgeon-Major and took Bezerra de Menezes to integrate his team of Operational Doctors in the Brazilian Army, granting him Military Honours as a Lieutenant Surgeon. He became renowned by the successes of his interventions and, as a result, he was appointed as a full member of the Imperial Academy of Medicine, being avowed in the session taking place on June the 1st, 1857, after defending the thesis: “Some considerations about cancer, from the treatment’s perspective”. During 3 years, he became the editor of that Society’s records.
However, Bezerra de Menezes did not remain in the Army for too long. After being summoned by friends and admirers from São Cristóvão’s neighbourhood, where he used to live and work, he initiated a career in Politics, becoming a Councillor in 1860, a local Member of Parliament in 1867; Leader of the Liberal Party in 1878; and, finally, President of the Municipal Parliament from 1878 to 1880.
Bezerra eventually distanced himself from Politics. After that, he was given by his friend Professor Joaquim Carlos Travassos – the first person to translate the Spirits’ Book into Portuguese – a copy of this work, which aroused in Bezerra a great curiosity and later he confessed: “I did not find anything there that was strange to my spirit. However, all of those things were new to me!…”
Out of the Army and oblivious to Politics, Bezerra de Menezes intensified his duties as a humanitarian doctor, providing a remarkable support to many indigent sick people and many others without financial resources to be treated. It is also important to quote his Medical Profession’s concept, taken from the book “Beautiful Stories of Bezerra de Menezes” by Ramiro Gama:
“The real doctor is like that: he has no right to finish a meal, to choose a time or to complaint if it is close or far away…To be with friends, to be tired for having worked all day or because is late at night; if the weather and the way are bad or if it is on the top of a hill.”
Originally from Ceara’s Province, Bezerra was born in “Riacho do Sangue” in August 29th, 1831. He was the son of a former Army Captain and Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard, Antonio Bezerra de Menezes; and Fabiana de Jesus Maria Cavalcanti de Albuquerque. He went to Rio de Janeiro in 1851 at the age of 20 years old, after his father suffered a major financial set back, carrying only an empty pocket and an overwhelming aspiration to graduate in Medicine. Due to his lack of financial resources, he had to lecture to other young people in order to fund his studies. Consequently, he was forced to live in a so-called “students residence” – a cheaper form of accommodation – where he would often be faced with situations that were incompatible with his moral conduct, which was free of thoughtless behaviours or undignified attitudes.
After completing his medical studies in 1856, Bezerra devoted himself to surgical activities at the “Hospital Santa Casa de Misericórdia”, where he enrolled as an intern in 1852. Shortly after, he gained the esteem and admiration of the great Professor of clinical surgery, Doctor Consultant Manuel Feliciano Pereira de Carvalho.
“A Doctor that demands a car from those that cannot even pay for their prescription or tells the people that knock on his door with tearful eyes – go and look for someone else! This is not a doctor but a trader of medicine, someone that works to collect the interests and dividends of the money spent on the graduation.”
For all of this, Bezerra de Menezes is known as the “Doctor of the Poor.” Forgotten and disillusioned by the public life and the creatures around him, Bezerra restarted a more proactive exercise of his profession and exclusively surrendered himself to the idea of being the “Doctor of the Poor”
That is how we will find him at his office in “Pharmacia do Cordeiro”, at Riachuelo station in 24th May Street, serving to hundreds of unprivileged people.
It was there that his kindness reached its climax, as a true apostolic mission. He would prescribe to the people, advising on whatever his heart dictated to him. He would give medication to the body and a balm to the soul. The poor would enter “Pharmacia do Cordeiro” carrying a sentiment of bitterness suffocating their hearts, and return home with a sense of relief and an unprecedented rewarding feeling.
The entire Rio de Janeiro were by now familiar with his name, from the farthest shores to the most elegant suburban areas of “Botafogo” and “Laranjeiras”. Cars and chariots rolled by the paved streets, producing loud noises of shoe horses and hurried passengers. Some of them were patients who had left their wealthy palaces in “Flamengo” and “Catete” simply attracted by the extraordinary fame acquired by the suburban doctor.
From his rich clients he would receive a fair remuneration for his work, which would allow him to help his poor clients without any charge.
On August 16th, 1886 Bezerra declared to the public his commitment to Spiritism and joined the Brazilian Spiritist Federation. Soon after that, under the pseudonym of “Max”, he started to write articles to a newspaper known as “O País”. It was a way to promote the Spiritist Doctrine and also reply to the constant attacks against Spiritism. His articles were published from September 1887 to December 1894, compiled in 3 volumes and edited with the title “Philosophical Studies”.
In 1895, a serious crisis erupted in the Brazilian Spiritist Federation between its “scientific” and “mystical” members. Bezerra de Menezes was summoned to conduct a missionary work of harmonization between the parties and, subsequently, he was given total freedom to introduce a major overhaul in Brazilian Spiritism, in order to establish it as the true Consoler.
Bezerra de Menezes ceased his activities on this planet in April 11th, 1900. However, his evangelical duties did not finish, as he continues to love and serve us all from the Universal’s Fatherland.
Here we can see some photos we have shoot in our trip to Rio de Janeiro. We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Pharmacy of the Cordeiro where Dr. Bezerra de Menezes used to practice for many years, also helping countless number of person who used to cue outside the pharmacy in search for a helping hand, an advice or simply a lovely hug from the Doctor.
Unfortunately the place is in a poor state due to lack of money to restore it. Here is our appeal for the Brazilians’ Authorities to give some help to this historic place.
Going upstairs from the steps beside the Pharmacy, we can find the first room. A tiny room where Dr. Bezerra de Menezes used to practice and prescribe to the sick and/or in need. The energy in this atmosphere is enchanting and uplifting.
Dr. Bezerra de Menezes and the Atheist
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I ask for a brief intervention, if possible. Bezerra, I’m still an atheist and, not only for my colleagues but also for me, I come to invite you to a public debate, so we can prove the materialism’s inexpugnability against the spiritualism’s pretensions. And I shall prevent you that materialism already have a huge list of deceitful mediums, illusionists that used the practice of fanciful, those who denied the psychic forces and assumed they were involved in such lies; those so called sensitive who recognized their mistakes and abandoned the spiritualism; and with those declarations we will present a file of names raised by materialism of those who can prove the inexistency of the communication with the beyond; of wizards who could not verify the reality of the mediumistic; of people that can testify against any kind of survival; of scholars deceived by slickers… We hope that you and your spirits can accept the bid.
Bezerra de Menezes:
Yes, my brother. If I can call you brother. We accept the bid, since you bring to the debate an unfortunate person that materialism had lifted his moral to the world, an outlaw which dignity was returned to him, an unhappy person who materialism had given back his joy for life; those hopeless who got back the peace in their heart; those drifted, that where brought back from hell by materialism, is it possible, my brother?
And our beloved brothers who lost their most beloved person… Can you tell me if materialism gave hope back to them? And the widows, orphan, did materialism give them hope so they won’t perish to pain, despair, over the graves. Did materialism teach someone to forgive?
And those who was born blind, mute, paralytic, deformed… Did materialism teach them serenity, resignation, to proceed with patience, comprehension, justice, the sadness of their lives?
My friend, do you know the cause and effect law, the reincarnation… I yet ask you: the suicidal, the one who can only think of dying, did materialism remove that thought that it’s consider an affront to The Creator? Materialism disperses, it doesn’t fulfil the existence, what its left is an existential and spiritual emptiness.
Bring me, my brother, an unfortunate that materialism removed from the pain of this planet and we, spiritualists, accept the bid.
A letter from Dr. Bezerra de Menezes to his Brother
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(…) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. I believe the church was founded by Him to teach his holy doctrine and it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. I believe in the communion of saints, the resurrection, and the life everlasting. I do not believe on the decayed angels because if so I would be denying the Omnipotence and Omniscience of Lord.
I do not believe the evil can overcome the good, creating the kingdom of Satan. I do not believe that a spirit created by God could affront, resist or destroy His plans, and even if He allows it, using the rebel to punish the rebel, because, in this case, God did not create men for the good, for happiness. I do not believe in eternal punishments because He is the Father. I do not believe in Pope’s ineffability, because that way we would have a God in heaven and another in earth. And the communion of saints means, for me, the communion of spirits.
This is my belief, and I tell you:
I truly hope and believe I will rise with Him to the eternal God’s society.
(…) Peace and love in Jesus Christ,
Your brother, Adolfo.
31 May 1886