Lakhs of people on Sunday attended a ceremony to mark the beatification of Martyr Devasahayam Pillai, the first layman from India to be given this honour by the Catholic Church.
The grand ceremony was held at the Carmel School grounds near Ramanputhoor in the town by the Diocese of Kottar where Pillai was born. The Chairman of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Angelo Cardinal Amato, participated in the function as the Papal Delegate and presided over it.
During the ceremony, Kottar bishop Peter Remigius, together with the postulator of the cause, approached Cardinal Amato and requested him to proceed with the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai while the bishop read some important anecdotes from the life of Pillai.
Following this, the Cardinal read the ‘apostolic letter’ in Latin and declared Servant of God Devasahayam Pillai ‘Blessed’ and noted that it had been permitted to celebrate his festivals in select places according to diocese laws on January 14 every year. Afterwards, the bishop read the translated version of the apostolic letter in Tamil and, at the end of the reading, a Latin hymn was sung as a large picture and the relics of Pillai were carried to the altar in a solemn procession. They were placed by the side of the altar, adorned with candles. The celebrant passed incense over the relics and a hymn on the blessed was sung. Later, Bishop Remigius thanked Pope Benedict XVI for proclaiming Pillai blessed and the bishop and the Papal representatives embraced each other.
Senior Catholic clergymen, including Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio, several cardinals from India, 40 bishops and almost 2,000 priests and nuns were joined by lakhs of faithfuls from different parts of the country to witness the ceremony.
State Forest Minister K T Patchaimal, Nagercoil MLA Nanjil Murugesan, Kanyakumari MP J Helen Davidson and politicians cutting across party lines were present at the event.