What religious duty does Manuel practice in Captains Courageous?

In Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, the Roman Catholic Manuel offers two or three candles in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for her intercession and protection. He also directs most of Mrs. Cheyne's reward to the church for the benefit of the needy.

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In chapter 4 of Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous, the members of the We're Here crew are talking, waiting out a time of rough seas. Manuel, who is Portuguese and Roman Catholic, tells Harvey Cheyne that when they get to Gloucester, the boy should light two or three large candles in thanksgiving for the “good luck” of arriving safely.

Manuel always does this in honor of the Virgin Mary, to whom he looks for protection while he is at sea. “She is very good to fishermen all the time,” he explains. “That is why so few of us Portuguese men are ever drowned.” The Virgin, he concludes, never forgets him.

Manuel is not doing anything unusual. It is a common Catholic practice to ask the saints, including the Virgin Mary, to intercede with God for graces and protection. After all, saints have front row seats to God and a great love for those still struggling to make their way through the world.

At the end of novel when Harvey is reunited with his parents, Mrs. Cheyne wants to reward Manuel for rescuing her son (for Manuel is the one who first pulls Harvey to safety). Manuel wants no reward. He would not have let the boy die. He is finally persuaded to take five dollars, because he wants to buy something for his sweetheart. The rest of the proposed reward, however, goes to the church, through the mediation of a Portuguese priest who will distribute it to the needy. Manuel is content with the church's blessings.

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