Saint Joseph Vaz spent most of his life in K'taka

Saint Joseph Vaz spent most of his life in K'taka

Saint Joseph Vaz spent most of his life in K'taka

As Pope Francis canonised Joseph Vaz as Sri Lanka’s first Catholic saint on Wednesday, Mudipu on the outskirts on Mangaluru erupted in joy for their holy son.

The missionary had spent more than half his life in the State before spreading Christianity in the island nation. The canonisation was celebrated with much fervour at the Blessed Joseph Vaz shrine on a hill in Mudipu here as it is the first time in history that someone from the coastal region has become a saint.

Mangalore Diocesan Bishop Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza concelebrated a festal mass and prayers went on throughout the day. Health Minister U T Khader, too, took part by offering his prayers at the shrine here, which is said to be the only church in India dedicated to the Blessed Joseph Vaz.

The newly canonised saint was born on April 21, 1651, to Christopher Vaz and Maria Miranda at Benovlim in Goa. He became a priest in 1676 and served in different parishes in Goa till 1681.

He later travelled on foot from Goa to Canara—present day Dakshina Kannada and Udupi—and also served in Honnavar, Basrur, Kundapura, Gangolli, Mulki, Mangaluru and Ullal Panir.

While staying at the Panir Church as a parish priest in 1684, he is said to have miraculously escaped an attempt on his life. Three years later, at the age of 36, he decided to pursue his dream to work as a missionary in Sri Lanka.

Braving all odds, he entered the island nation as a labourer, defying a ban on the entry of Catholic priests.

The Blessed Joseph Vaz is remembered for rekindling the Christian faith in Sri Lanka. He died at the age of 60 on January 16, 1711. Pope John Paul II had recognised the missionary’s work and proclaimed him Blessed Joseph Vaz in Colombo on January 21, 1995.
DH News Service