Pope approves Vaz as Lanka’s first saint

Thursday, 18 September 2014 00:14 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Pope Francis has approved Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651-1711) as Sri Lanka’s first saint, reports from the Vatican said yesterday. Reports said that the Pope had bent Vatican rules to bypass confirmation of a miracle in order to approve Blessed Joseph Vaz as a saint. Francis will now canonise Joseph Vaz, a 17th century missionary, during his visit to Sri Lanka in January. Vaz was born in India in 1651 but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers, who were Calvinists. He is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in the country. The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis approved the decision by the Vatican’s saint-making office to canonise Vaz. The process was the same Francis used to canonise St. John XXIII without a second miracle attributed to his intercession. Francis has waived Vatican saint-making rules on several occasions and has promised to give Asia more saints. Vaz rescued and expanded the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, one of the five officially crowned Marian Shrines of the Church. It was crowned for its fame for miracles and for pilgrimages in 1924, even before Fatima. He is the first non-European native in modern times to found a Mission and Church in a ‘Third World’ country, to found a fully-native Catholic Religious Congregation and to be given the official title of ‘Apostle’ (of Kanara and Sri Lanka) by the Church, for his work in rescuing the Church. (Colombo Gazette)