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Canonisation of Devasahayam Pillai to be held in Vatican in May 2022

The canonisation of Blessed Lazarus, popularly known as Devasahayam Pillai who was a Catholic for just seven years, will be held at the Vatican on May 15, 2022.

Published: 11th November 2021 03:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2021 03:48 AM   |  A+A-

Statue of Devasahayam Pillai at  St Xavier’s Church, Kottar, near Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The canonisation of Blessed Lazarus, popularly known as Devasahayam Pillai who was a Catholic for just seven years, will be held at the Vatican on May 15, 2022. Pillai who had lived in the 18th century was a layman who is believed to have attained martyrdom for upholding his faith. 

Pillai was an official in the court of the king of the erstwhile Travancore. He was born into a Hindu family and was introduced to Christianity by Dutch naval officer Captain De Lannoy during the latter’s stint as commander of the Travancore Army under King Marthanda Varma. Pillai is believed to have been killed by the king for upholding the new faith. It is believed that he underwent brutal torture in custody before getting executed. 

Pillai was born on April 23, 1712, as Neelakanda Pillai, at Nattalam of Vilavancode taluk in the present district of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. His parents were Vasudevan Namputhiri and Devaki Amma. Pillai started his career with Travancore state as a soldier and later as an official of Neelakandaswamy temple at Padmanabhapuram. It was during his third job as a palace official he befriended De Lannoy. 

Devasahayam was declared Blessed on December 2, 2012, at Kottar. He was declared eligible for sainthood in 2020. A communication issued by the Vatican in February 2020 reads: “His conversion did not go well with the heads of his native religion. False charges of treason and espionage were brought against him...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.” 

Sites linked with his life and martyrdom are in Kottar Diocese at Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. His mortal remains were interred near the altar inside St Xavier’s Church, Kottar, Nagercoil, which is now the diocesan Cathedral. His tomb attracts faithful in large numbers.



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