15 May, 2022
We have 10 new Saints! One Saint is Indian! An Indian layman! PRAISE THE LORD!
Pope Francis has declared Devasahayam Pillai, India’s first lay martyr a saint. He was a convert to Catholicism from Hinduism.
Pope Francis declares Devasahayam Pillai a saint in a first for an Indian layman!
An official in the court of the King of Travancore, he had embraced Christianity in the 18th century, and was eventually martyred. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI had paved the way for a decree to be promulgated regarding Pillai’s martyrdom and he was granted the title ‘Venerable’.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis declared Devasahayam Pillai a saint today during a Canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica – the first time that such an announcement has been made about an Indian lay person. An official in the court of the King of Travancore, he had embraced Christianity in the 18th century, and was eventually martyred. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI had paved the way for a decree to be promulgated regarding Pillai’s martyrdom and he was granted the title ‘Venerable’.
According to the website Vatican News, Lazarus or Devasahayam (which means ‘God is my help’ in the local language), will be among seven Blessed to be canonised today. The announcement had been made by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican last year in November.
Born in what is today Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district, he had been converted to Catholicism by a Jesuit priest in 1745. His father was a Brahmin and his mother reportedly belonged to the Nair caste.
He was an official in Travancore ruler Maharaja Marthanda Varma’s court when he came under the influence of Dutch naval commander, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy. Reports suggest that he was killed for upholding the Christian faith in 1752, being buried in front of the main altar at the St Francis Xavier cathedral in Kottar.
According to reports, the Thiruvananthapuram Latin archdiocese will hold special prayers to mark the canonisation. Officials said that Archbishop Thomas J Netto will lead the thanksgiving mass and special prayers at Palayam St Joseph’s cathedral in the evening as part of the canonisation mass to be held at the Vatican at 10.30 am on Sunday.
A national-level celebration of his canonisation is also set to be held on June 5 at the church where his mortal remains are buried.