Cairbar de Souza Schutel, son of Anthero de Souza Schutel and Rita Tavares Schutel, was born on 22 September, 1868 at 59 Ouvidor St. in Rio de Janeiro, then the seat of the Imperial Court of Brazil.
According to J. Macpherson’s book The Poems of Ossian, Cairbar (or Cairbre) means ‘strong man.’ The Schutels were a prestigious Swiss family and Anthero, born 16 April, 1837 was the son of Major Francisco Machado de Souza Schutel and Maria da Gloria Teixeira Schutel.
The family sailed to Rio de Janeiro on board the Camões in 1875 when Cairbar was seven years old. The Schutels were a Catholic family so Cairbar was baptized and received the sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church.
Anthero Schutel, Cairbar’s father, was employed as an Auction Agent but led an unruly life. Three siblings had perished prior to his birth and a brother, born ten years later, would live only four years. Both parents also died before Cairbar was ten years old. His Grandfather, Dr. Henrique Schutel, enrolled him in the Imperial College of Pedro II, where the young man studied through the tenth grade.
By the age of 17, Cairbar was already a practicing pharmacist. He did not care for the lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro and, because of a medical recommendation, he moved to the State of São Paulo. He lived, at first, in the city of Piracicaba where he managed the Pharmacy Neves and, at some point between 1885 and 1891, Cairbar moved to the countryside of São Paulo.
In 1896, Cairbar arrived in Matão (on a Friday, the 13th!) and opened a pharmacy. He remained in Matão for 42 years. At that time, Matão was just a small country village with only a few houses. Cairbar fought hard to emancipate it from the municipality of Araraquara and contributed decisively to the effort to make Matão independent, becoming the first President of its Town Hall in 1889.
Cairbar was a fervent Catholic and devotee of Our Lady of Aparecida. Father Antonio Cesarino came once or twice a month to Matão to celebrate Mass. Father Miguel Ruffo assumed this task in 1908. Possessed of culture, social prestige and a brilliant moral authority, Mr. Schutel made history by being chosen the first Mayor of the city of Matão, a position he occupied twice, from 28 March to 7 October, 1899 and, again, from 18 August to 15 October, 1900.
His political accomplishment was acknowledged in a speech delivered in the State Chamber by the illustrious parliamentarian, Deputy Dr. Hilario Freire, on the occasion of the creation of the Region of Matão in 1923:
“Mr. Cairbar de Souza Schutel, worker, humanitarian and patriotic citizen, using all the political prestige that he possessed and buying, with his own resources, the building for the installation of the Chamber, was able, through an initiative begun and overseen in 1898 by the late Dr. Francisco de Toledo Malta, to help create the municipality of Matão.”
Cairbar discovers Spiritism
While living in the city of Matão, he began to receive, in dreams, continual visits from his deceased parents. He sought out the father of his friend, Manuel Pereira do Prado, better known as Manuel Calixto, who was a Spiritist. The senior Calixto complained that he had not held mediumistic sessions for two years because the only spirits who were communicating kept asking for Masses and, with so many requests, it was difficult for him to come up with enough money to pay for them! Cairbar insisted on participating in a mediumistic session with Sr. Calixto, during which they received a message from a highly elevated spirit, D. Pedro II (Emperor of Brazil in the 1800’s), which profoundly impressed the future missionary. Cairbar lamented the trivial communications of these spirits in discussions with another friend, João P. Rosa e Silva in Itápolis, who was also sympathetic to Spiritism. He provided Schutel with a copy of The Reformer, a Spiritist publication which Cairbar devoured eagerly. He decided to deepen his doctrinal knowledge by studying the Spiritist Codification by Allan Kardec, the Philosophical Studies by Bezerra de Menezes and all the other Spiritist books published in Portuguese that were recommended in The Reformer.
The impressive logic of The Spirits’ Book gave Cairbar answers to the doubts he had accumulated during the time he was a devout Catholic; “The Mediums’ Book” offered remedies to his curious but amateurish experiments with the phenomenon of theological typology.
“The Gospel According to Spiritism” deeply touched the heart of the man who would later be called the “Father of the Poor”. Having thoroughly studied these sources of spiritual knowledge and convinced of the importance of Spiritist teachings, Mr. Cairbar was sure of the path he should take. He could not remain inert or in idle contemplation of such a precious spiritual patrimony. Cairbar converted to Spiritism and soon began displaying various mediumistic abilities, the most prominent of which was psychography, through which his father’s spirit manifested, proving his continuing existence.
Mr. Schutel resolved to spread the renewing message of Spiritism to the four corners of the world, even though he was living in a modest country town in Brazil. He threw himself into the challenge, body and soul, so that these teachings might benefit more people. He did not hesitate.
He founded the first Spiritist group in the São Paulo area, Lovers of Poverty (now the Spiritist Center O Clarim) on 15 July, 1905 and, one month later, he founded the newspaper O Clarim.
His small newspaper raised awareness about the immortality of the soul, the plurality of existences and the communicability of spirits, as well as other principles of Spiritism.
It was distributed on the streets, then shipped by train to neighboring cities and, soon, mailed throughout Brazil. He dedicated himself completely to publishing: he acquired printing presses, paper, ink, glue and supplies, always employing the best materials. In ten years, circulation approached almost 50,000 copies.
On 15 February 1925, in collaboration with Luís Carlos de Oliveira Borges who provided material resources, Cairbar launched the International Review of Spiritism. Both the newspaper and the magazine circulate to this day, the result of Schutel’s struggle, persistence and success. Continuing his work of dissemination, Cairbar gave fifteen well-known ‘radio conferences’ on Radio Culture PRD-4 in Araraquara city, on Sundays in 1936 and 1937. These were later published as a book in September 1937.
The “Father of the Poor”
Cairbar married Maria Elvira da Silva e Lima, on 31 August 1905 in Itapolis, São Paulo. The Schutels did not have any children but their dedication to their fellow human beings was legendary in the history of Matão because they never failed to assist those who sought them out.
They volunteered their services to the community, welcoming the homeless, treating the sick and providing meals for the hungry. Their residence became a ‘house of the poor’ where many came begging on a daily basis and left with packages of food, clothing and even firewood.
Mr. Cairbar knew how to be friends with the outcasts of life and his love for his neighbors set an example to all. Acts of detachment and renunciation were common to him. He prescribed and provided medicine and health remedies free of charge and became known in Matão as the “Father of the Poor.” He was not content to stay in his pharmacy, behind the counter, in white, neat, clean clothes. On Saturdays, he ventured out toward the farms in his horse-drawn cart, filled with prepared medicines for those who could not travel or pay. “There goes the ambulance of Mr. Schutel!” people would say as they watched him passing by. The pharmacy even offered eyeglasses to the poor because Cairbar had studied as an optician. As a Spiritist, he sometimes applied magnetic passes which prompted the local priests to warn people not to buy from the Schutel Pharmacy.
Mr. Cairbar also visited the city’s public jail and brought prescription drugs, injections, pills, ointments and salves to the prisoners, as needed, and gave them his full attention. He was frequently called by the guards to deal with cases of alleged spiritual obsession. On occasion, Schutel asked for prisoners to be temporarily released into his care, so he might bring them to a Spiritist meeting for passes.
Cairbar and Maria also routinely received patients into their own home, feeding them and tending to their ailments. In view of the great numbers of people coming to the house, Cairbar built wooden shelters in the back yard and, eventually, a hospital. He provided lodging for the homeless, victims of tuberculosis, cripples and even the obsessed. He tended to destitute travelers, especially the itinerant lepers despised by society, mutilated and covered with wounds.
Cairbar loved to cook. Sometimes, this Maître d’ appeared at the end of lunch and asked: “Are you satisfied? Was it really good?”
It was a pleasure for him to greet everyone at his home and, under the dining arbor he built near the shelters, they all were treated with respect. Cairbar talked to them with the same kindness and patience evident in his dealings with doctors and scholars. Maria, too, despite her weakened health, was always at the disposal of their guests.
Cairbar Schutel began his apostolate in 1905 when he was only 36 years old. For 33 more years, he dedicated himself completely to spreading and, by his example, living the Spiritist philosophy. Through the periodicals he published, the books he wrote, the lectures he gave, the doctrinal incentives he distributed and, most notably, his enthusiasm for the pioneering possibilities of radio outreach, he proved himself a communicator par excellence and significantly influenced an entire generation of Spiritists.
Cairbar Schutel died after a short illness, on 30 January 1938.
Matão’s most prestigious newspaper A Comarca, in its edition of 6 February, 1938, published this assessment:
“It is absolutely impossible in Matão to speak of either our past history or today without mentioning Cairbar Schutel. He was, for Matão, a driving dynamo of progress, a devoted and eloquent herald of our nascent city’s aspirations. More than this, he was the man who, as a pharmacist, used his knowledge and charitable inclinations to provide for the sick in those times when a doctor in the backlands of the countryside was still an authentic rare bird.”
During and after his funeral, countless people from Matão and the outskirts, from the State of São Paulo and various regions of Brazil, poured out heartfelt tributes of recognition and gratitude for his work.
His headstone bears his words: “I lived, I live, and I will live again because I am immortal.”