An Indian lay person is among a group of “blesseds” who will soon be canonized by the Catholic Church.
The Vatican announced that Blessed Lazarus (Devasahayam) Pillai of India is among those who will be raised to the altars in the coming months.
Blessed Lazarus, known as Devasahayam, was a Brahmin of the Nair caste in India. He was born in Nattalam in the present-day Kanyakumari District on April 23, 1712.
Devasahayam’s family had much influence in the royal palace of Maharaja Marthanda Varma, king of Travancore, and Devasahayam went into the service of the royal palace as a young man.
He was baptized a Catholic by a Jesuit priest in 1745 and took the name Lazarus. Devasahayam, who was married, persuaded his wife to embrace Christianity.
He reportedly preached on the equality of all peoples, despite caste differences. It aroused the hatred of “higher classes” and he was arrested in 1749. He was shot on Jan. 14, 1752.
At a Consistory on Monday, May 3, Pope Francis confirmed the vote of the cardinals to proceed with the canonization of Devasahayam and six other “blesseds.”
Once canonized, the holy men and women will be recognized as Saints throughout the universal Church.
Among those in the list is Blessed Charles de Foucauld, a French soldier who travelled extensively in northern Africa.
Originally a fallen-away Catholic, he embraced the faith at the age of 28 and found his vocation during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
He was ordained at the age of 43 after which he returned to the desert in Algeria where he lived a life of meditation, prayer, and study.
He was killed on Dec. 1, 1916, by a band of marauders.
Also set for sainthood are three priests who founded religious orders – César de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Giustino Maria Russolillo; and two religious foundresses – Maria Francesca di Gesù and Maria Domenica Mantovani.