Devasahayam Pillai becomes first Indian layman to be conferred sainthood by Pope
Devasahayam Pillai, a Hindu who had converted to Christianity in the 18th Century, will become the first Indian layman to be conferred sainthood.
Pope Francis will canonise Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, together with six other Blesseds, during a Canonization Mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on May 15, 2022, Church officials said in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
The announcement was made by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican on Tuesday.
“With the completion of the process, Pillai, who took the name “Lazarus” after embracing Christianity in 1745, will become the first lay person from India to become a saint,” the church said.
“Lazarus” or “Devasahayam” in the local language means “God is my help”.
“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 14 January 1752,” a note by the Vatican reads.
Sites linked with his life and martyrdom are in Kottar Diocese in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari.
Devasahayam was declared Blessed on December 2, 2012, in Kottar, 300 years after his birth.
Devasahayam was born into a Hindu Nair family at Nattalam in Kanyakumari district, which was part of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom, on April 23, 1712.
(With inputs from Agencies)