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Current Affairs

Devasahayam Pillai to be granted sainthood

Date: 13 November 2021 Tags: Honours & Awards

Issue

An ordinary layman known as Devasahayam Pillai will be granted sainthood by the Vatican next year.

 

Background

Devasahayam was born as a Hindu near Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. He got converted to Christianity and took the name ‘Lazarus’ in 1745.

 

Details

  • Devasahayam was approved for sainthood in February 2020 for facing hardships after he decided to embrace Christianity.

  • He was prosecuted and imprisoned after he converted to Christianity. He was ultimately killed in 1752. 

 

Life history

  • Devasahayam Pillai was born in Nattalam village in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu. He served in the court of Marthanda Varma, the Maharaja of Travancore.

  • Devasahayam was greatly influenced by a Dutch naval commander, who gave him teachings about the Catholic faith.

  • He was baptized in the year 1745 and adopted a Christian name ‘Lazarus’.  He had to face opposition from Travancore state, which was against conversion.

  • Vatican historians allege that he was wrongly accused of espionage and treason. He was removed unceremoniously from naval administration.

  • Devasahayam was shot dead in the Aralvaimozhy forest in 1742. He is considered a martyr by Catholics and his body is preserved at Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in the Diocese of Kottar.

 

Reasons for sainthood

  • Devasahayam was recommended for sainthood by Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).

  • He was declared blessed during the midday ‘Angelus’ prayer in the Vatican. He was considered to be a ‘faithful layman’.

 

Name controversy

  • Several people have asked the Vatican to drop his last name ‘Pillai’ as it was a caste title. It was declined at that time.

  • After clearing him for sainthood, Vatican decided to drop his last name and instead referred to him as ‘Blessed Devasahayam’.