Pope Francis on Thursday proclaimed Spanish Jesuit Jose de Anchieta (1534-1597), known for his humanitarian and evangelical work in Brazil, to be a saint.

The pontiff, as had been previously announced, signed the act of "equivalent canonization" to name Anchieta, who was born in Tenerife, Spain, a saint, thereby avoiding a lengthy process of canonization in which the approval of at least one miracle would have been required.

Anchieta was beatified in 1980.

In this case, a Mass is not necessary to make the canonization official, but Francis, who is also a Jesuit, had already announced that on April 24 at 6 p.m. he will preside at a Mass in honor of the new saint at San Ignacio Church in Rome.

Anchieta became a Jesuit in 1550 and three years later he was assigned to the missions in Brazil, where he arrived on July 13, 1553.

His arrival began a 44-year mission in which, among other things, he would found the city of Sao Paulo and would gain fame for his efforts to protect the local indigenous people, for which he ended up being called "Brazil's apostle."

Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, hailed the canonization of the Spanish Jesuit.

The Sao Paulo archdiocese expressed in a communique its "tremendous gratitude to God" for Anchieta's canonization.

"This moment has been long awaited by the Church of Sao Paulo. A great missionary, St. Jose de Anchieta gave testimony of a holy life, which was already recognized while he was still alive," said Archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer.

"St. Jose de Anchieta means a lot to us, in Sao Paulo, and we feel honored at his canonization," the archbishop said. EFE