devasahayam: Devasahayam Pillai becomes the first Indian layman to be declared a saint by the pope | India News


VATICAN CITY: Devasahayam Pillai, who embraced Christianity in the 18th century, on Sunday became the first Indian layman to be declared a saint by Pope Francis in an impressive canonization ceremony here at the Vatican.
Devasahayam was recommended for the process of beatification by the Vatican in 2004, at the request of the Diocese of Kottar, the Council of Bishops of Tamil Nadu and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Pope Francis, 85, canonized Blessed Devasahayam during a canonization mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
A miracle attributed to Devasahayam was recognized by Pope Francis in 2014, paving the way for his canonization in 2022.
It was the first canonization ceremony at the Vatican in over two years. Pope Francis, who has been complaining of strained ligaments in his right knee for months, used a wheelchair to preside over the ceremony.
Nine others, including four women, were also canonized with Devasahayam.
“Our vocation is to serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, nor any worldly glory,” the pope said during the ceremony.
“Being disciples of Jesus and moving forward on the path of holiness is above all letting oneself be transfigured by the power of God’s love,” he said.
A group of Indians holding the tricolor cheered the rally when Devasahayam’s name was announced.
With the process completed, Pillai, who took the name “Lazarus” after embracing Christianity in 1745, became the first Indian layman to become a saint.
Devasahayam was born on April 23, 1712 as Neelakanta Pillai to a Hindu Nair family, at Nattalam in Kanyakumari district, which was part of the ancient kingdom of Travancore.
He was an official in the court of Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore when he was instructed in the Catholic faith by a Dutch naval commander.
“Lazarus” or “Devasahayam” in Malayalam translates to “God is my helper”.
“While he preached, he particularly insisted on the equality of all, despite the differences of caste. This aroused the hatred of the upper classes, and he was arrested in 1749. After enduring increasing hardships, he received the crown of the martyrdom when he was shot on January 14, 1752,” said a note prepared by the Vatican earlier.
Sites related to his life and death are in Kottar Diocese in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
Devasahayam was declared blessed on December 2, 2012 in Kottar, 300 years after his birth.

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