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Devasahayam Pillai becomes first Indian layman to get sainthood

Devasahayam Pillai becomes first Indian layman to get sainthood

Devasahayam, also known as Lazarus, who converted to Christianity in the 18th century in the then kingdom of Travancore, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sunday.

He is also the first Indian layman to get sainthood.

Pope Francis canonised Blessed Devasahayam Pillai along with nine others during an impressive canonisation Mass on Sunday (May 15) in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

According to reports, Devasahayam was bestowed with the sainthood for what the Vatican termed "enduring increasing hardships."

It was at the request of the Kottar diocese, Tamil Nadu Bishops' Council and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India that he was recommended for the process of Beatification by the Vatican in 2004.

Born Neelakandan Pillai in Hindu upper caste family in present-day Kanyakumari, he worked at Travancore palace. In 1745, he converted to Christianity and took the names of Devasahayam and Lazarus. He went on to fight against caste discrimination and was persecuted and then killed.

In 2012, the Vatican recognised his martyrdom after a rigorous process.

"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 prepared by the Vatican earlier had said.

Devasahayam was chosen for the sainthood after a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy testified to a "miracle" after praying to him in 2013.

The woman said that her foetus had been declared "medically dead" and that there was no movement. However, she said, she experienced movement "after praying to the martyr".

The Vatican accepted this and recognised Devasahayam for sainthood.

Others who were canonised along with Lazzarus Devasahayam are Blesseds Titus Brandsma, César de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Giustino Maria Russolillo, Charles de Foucauld, Maria Rivier, Maria Francesca, Maria of Jesus Santocanale, Maria Domenica Mantovani.

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TAGS:Devasahayam pillai sainthood Pope Francis 
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