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Catholics in India prepare for canonization of lay martyr

Devasahayam Pillai

Kumbalam | CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/25/22

The Catholic Church in India is preparing for the canonization of Lazarus Devasahayam, a Hindu convert to Catholicism.

On May 15, 2022, Catholics in India will rejoice in the historic canonization of Lazarus Devasahayam, the country’s first native lay person recognized as a saint.

The local bishops explained in a statement, “He is … the first lay person and the first married person from India to be conferred sainthood. This canonization, therefore, has a special significance for the Church in India.”

Devasahayam lived during the 18th century and converted to Catholicism from Hinduism, a move that made him a local target. He was imprisoned and later shot dead at the age of 39.

Local celebrations

According to Vatican News, the local church in India will celebrate his canonization in a variety of ways.

The CCBI plans to hold a 7-step national quiz competition on his life and message.  Similarly, a national essay competition will be held for young people and married laity and school and college students. 

Following the May 15 canonization, a national thanksgiving celebration will be held on Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Aralvaimozhi, where Devasahayam met his martyrdom. 

And on June 24, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all families will be consecrated to the Sacred Heart. The bishops have invited the faithful, both in the country as well as abroad, to join in the prayer as a family and “plead for the intercession of martyr Devasahayam for our country.”

The canonization will mark an important chapter in the history of the Catholic Church in India, which is still a predominately Hindu country.

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