Devasahayam Pillai becomes first Indian layman to be declared saint by Pope Francis
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Devasahayam Pillai, who embraced Christianity in the 18th century, on May 15 became the first Indian layman to be declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican.
His name was recommended for this in 2004.
Pope Francis announces canonization of Devasayam Pillai as saint along with 9 others including four women.
About Devasahayam Pillai
Devasahyam was born as Nilakanta Pillai on April 23, 1712, in a Hindu family at Nattalam in Kanyakumari district, which was then part of the Kingdom of Travancore.
He was an official in the court of Travancore’s Maharaja Marthanda Varma.
After meeting a Dutch naval commander at the court, Devasahayam was baptised in 1745, and assumed the name ‘Lazarus’, meaning ‘God is my help’.
His conversion did not go well with the heads of his native religion.
False charges of treason and espionage were brought against him and he was divested of his post in the royal administration.
He was arrested in 1749.
On January 14, 1752, Devasahayam was shot dead in the Aralvaimozhi forest.
Since then, he is considered a martyr, and his mortal remains were interred inside what is now Saint Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Kottar, Nagercoil.
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