India’s first lay Catholic saint has much to teach us today, says Bishop

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Bishop Thomas Neylon has expressed his joy at the news of the Canonisation of Blessed Lazarus, also called Devasahayam, an 18th-century Indian martyr. He was a married Hindu man who converted to Catholicism.

Taking the name ‘Lazarus’ or ‘Devasahayam’ in the local language, meaning ‘God is my help’, he was brought up on false charges of treason and espionage and was divested of his post in the royal administration. He was imprisoned and subjected to harsh persecution. A Catholic for only seven years, he was shot dead in the Aralvaimozhy forest on January 14, 1752.


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Reflection on India's first lay Catholic Saint

Bishop Neylon, Lead Bishop for Asia for the Bishops’ Conference, has recorded a short audio reflection on the new saint and sees his relevance for Catholics today.

“Even though Blessed Lazarus lived over 200 years ago, his life has much to teach us today about how to share, how to receive, and how to live our faith in Jesus Christ. During his life, Blessed Lazarus experienced riches and a position of trust in the society in which he lived. He also experienced suffering, humiliation and poverty, because of his faith in Jesus Christ.”

Pope Francis will canonise Devasahayam, India’s first lay Catholic saint, in Rome on Sunday, 15 May 2022.


Statue of Devasahayam Pillai, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Kottar, Nagercoil
Kumbalam on Wikimedia Commons
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