Vatican City: The Vatican has announced the date for the canonization of seven people, including Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, the first apostolic martyr in India to be killed for his faith in Jesus Christ. All seven will be canonized by the Pope during a special service at the Vatican on May 15, 2022. The Vatican yesterday (November 09) announced the date of his elevation to the Holy See.

Last year, Pope Francis acknowledged the miracles performed in the name of Justin Russellilo and other saints. Bl. Devasahayam Pillai was born on 23 April 1712 in Nattalam, Kanyakumari district. Prior to his conversion, he was known as Neelakanta Pillai and was the secretary of Marthanda Varma’s court. Pillai, who came to know Christ from the Dutch general Delano, was baptized on May 17, 1745, by the name Devasahayam which meant ‘Lazarus’, by a Jesuit priest named Buttari, a missionary in Nemam, South Travancore.

Pillai went to places like Ramapuram, Vadakkekulam, and Neyyattinkara and preached Christ, much to the annoyance of royal servants and colleagues. They conspired against him and accused him of treason. The king ordered that his hands and feet be bound and that he be beaten 30 times on his arms and feet every day. Even passersby enjoyed beating him. He was jailed for four years. On January 14, 1752, the royal guards took Pillai to Kattadi hill with an order to shoot him dead. Knowing that, it was time for him to leave, Pillai finally asked permission to pray for one last time.

(Image courtesy: Satyam Online)


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