First Indian layman declared Saint by the Vatican


Neelakandan Pillai worked at the Travancore Palace in the year 1745. He later converted to Christianity and changed his name to Devasahayam. He stood for equality and fought against casteism and caste discrimination. Due to this, he was persecuted and killed.

The Vatican recognized his martyrdom after a long rigorous process. He was chosen for sainthood after a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy testified to a miracle in 2013 after she prayed to him. According to the woman, during her seventh month of pregnancy, her foetus was declared ”medically dead” and there were no movements at all. However, after she prayed to the martyr, she experienced movement.
The Vatican accepted her version and recognized Devasahayam for sainthood. He became the first Indian layman to be declared a saint by the Vatican on Sunday. Pope Francis canonised Devasahayam during the Canonisation Mass held in Saint Peter’s Basilica. The service was attended by 50,000 faithful from around the world.



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