By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Friday authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate 8 decrees regarding 10 candidates, clearing two of them for sainthood.
Among them is Indian martyr, Blessed Lazarus, called Devasahayam, an 18th century high-caste Hindu married man who converted to Catholicism. A decree acknowledged a miracle through his intercession that cleared him for sainthood.
Born on April 1712 as Neelakanda Pillai, in the village of Nattalam, Devasahayam served in the palace of southern India’s Hindu kingdom of Travancore, which stretched from what is Kanyakumari District today, right up to Cochin in Kerala state.
He assumed the name Devasahayam, or ‘God is my help’, at Baptism upon his conversion to Catholicism 1945. However, his conversion did not go well with the heads of his native religion. False charges of treason and espionage were brought against him and he was divested of his post in the royal administration. He was imprisoned and subjected to harsh persecution. A Catholic for only seven years, he was shot dead in the Aralvaimozhy forest on January 14, 1752.
Sites linked with his life and martyrdom are in Kottar Diocese, in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu state. His tomb at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Nagercoil attracts large numbers of devotees.
Devasahayam was declared Blessed on December 2, 2012, in Kottar, 300 years after his birth.
In remarks that day during the midday “Angelus” prayer in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI recalled Devasahayam as “faithful layman”. He urged Christians to “join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that the new Blessed may sustain the faith of the Christians of that large and noble country.”
Pope Francis also acknowledged a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Maria Francesca di Gesù (born: Anna Maria Rubatto), that clears her for canonization. The foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano was born in Carmagnola (Italy) on February 14, 1844 and died in Montevideo (Uruguay) on August 6, 1904.
The canonization of these two candidates will be decided at a later date.
Miracle for beatification
Another miracle was recognized through the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Carlo Acutis, a layman. He was on May 3, 1991 in London (England) and died on October 12, 2006 in Monza (Italy). He has been cleared for beatification.
The Pope also recognized the martyrdom of the Servants of God Rutilio Grande García, a Jesuit priest, and his 2 lay companions, who were killed in hatred of the faith in El Salvador on March 12, 1977. They will be declared Blessed.
There were also 4 decrees on the heroic virtues of the following candidates:
– Servant of God Emilio Venturini, a diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Our Lady of Sorrows. He born in Chioggia (Italy) on 9 January 1842 and died there on 1 December 1905.
– Servant of God Pirro Scavizzi, a diocesan priest. Born in Gubbio (Italy) on March 31, 1884, he died in Rome on September 9, 1964.
– Servant of God Emilio Recchia of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata ( or Stigmatines). He was born in Verona (Italy) on February 19, 1888, and died there on June 27, 1969.
– Servant of God Mario Hiriart Pulido, a lay man. Born in Santiago de Chile (Chile) on 23 July 1931, he died in Milwaukee (United States of America) on 15 July 1964.
These four Servants of God will now be called ‘Venerable Servants of God”, or simply ‘Venerable’.