Devasahayam Pillai has become the first Indian layman, who was declared a saint by Pope Francis on Sunday. Pillai had embraced Christianity in the 18th century.
During the Canonisation Mass, 85-year-old pope canonised Blessed Devasahayam. The ceremony was organised in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
It was also attended by more than 50,000 people from all over the world. There were also government delegations for honouring the 10 new saints.
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On the request of the Kottar diocese, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, Devasahayam was recommended for Beatification by Vatican in 2004.
Around 300 years after birth, Devasahayam was declared Blessed in Kottar on December 2, 2012.
“While preaching, he particularly insisted on the equality of all people, despite caste differences. This aroused the hatred of the higher classes, and he was arrested in 1749. After enduring increasing hardships, he received the crown of martyrdom when he was shot on January 14, 1752,” a note, which was prepared by the Vatican had said earlier.
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On April 23, 1712, Devasahayam was born as Neelakanta Pillai into a Hindu Nair family at Nattalam in Kanyakumari district.
A Dutch naval commander had instructed him into Catholic faith when he was an official in the court of Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore. On embracing Christianity in 1745, Pillai had taken the name “Lazarus”.
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(With inputs from agencies)