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Pope confers sainthood on Devasahayam Pillai

Vatican City, May 15 (agency)

Pope Francis conferred the title of saint on Devasahayam Pillai at the Vatican on Sunday. Pillai converted to Christianity in the 18th century. Devasahayam is the first Indian common man to be declared a saint by the Pope. The process of declaring Devasahayam as a charitable soul was recommended in the year 2004 at the request of Kottar Dharmakshetra, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India. Pope Francis on Sunday declared Devasahayam Pillai, along with nine others, a saint at a prayer meeting for the consecration of the saint at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Pillai’s miraculous philanthropic work was recognized by Pope Francis in the year 2014. This paved the way for him (Pillai) to be declared a saint in the year 2022. With the completion of the process, Pillai is the first Indian common man to be declared a saint. He named himself ‘Lazarus’ after converting to Christianity in the year 1745. Devasahyam was born on 23 April 1712 in a Hindu Nair family. His original name is Neelkanth Pillai. He was a resident of Nattalam in Kanyakumari which was part of the then Travancore state. He was an employee in the court of Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore. He was initiated into Catholicism by the commander of the Dutch Navy. “Lazarus” or “Devasahayam” in Malayalam means “God is my helper.” Devasahyam was declared fortunate on 2 December 2012 in Kottar, 300 years after his birth.

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