Vatican City: Devasahayam Pillai has been declared a saint by Pope Francis. He is the first Indian to achieve this feat. He was born in a Hindu family but converted to Christianity.
Pope Francis announced this at the Vatican. Nine other names are also included in the list of saints in Peter’s Basilica.
In 2004, Kottar Diocese, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council and the Catholic Bishops’ Association of India recommended to the Vatican to include him in the process of Beatification.
Devasahayam Pillai had converted to Christianity in 1745 and changed his name to ‘Lazarus’. It also means the one who helps the gods.
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. 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. Devasahyam was declared lucky on 2 December 2012 in Kottar, 300 years after his birth.