By Express News Service - CHENNAI 17th November 2012 11:26 AM
The Doicese of Kottar would organise a grand celebration at the Carmel School campus at Nagercoil on December 2 to commemorate the declaration of son-of-the-soil Devasahayam Pillai, a Catholic martyr, as blessed.
Devasahayam was declared blessed by the Pope on 28 June, 2012, making him the first layman from India to be declared so. This was an important step prior to sainthood, and in the country of his origin, he could be given the veneration due for a saint.
Chairman of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Angelo Cardinal Amato, would be the Papal delegate at the event. Over 1 lakh people were expected to attend, said Kottar bishop Peter Remigius.
Devasahayam was born Neelakandan Pillai in 1712. He became a Christian in 1745 after learning about Christ through a Dutch prisoner, Captain de Lannoy, and took on the name Lazar.
Traditionally, the story went that he moved freely with all castes, much to the ire of the higher caste folk.This led to severe consequences such as imprisonment, parading on a buffalo, being put in iron chains, lashings and more, for Devasahayam. He died in 1752 at Kattadimalai, where he was finally shot dead.
Speaking of the martyr, Bishop Remigius said, “At one point during his torture, Devasahayam wanted water, which was not provided to him. Using his elbow, he touched a nearby rock and a spring of water started flowing there. This place still exists on the campus of a church. He died for the sake of his belief and was a witness to Christian faith.”
A souvenir on the beatification of the Venerable Devasahayam Pillai would be released at the event. Bishop Remigius extended an invitation to all to attend the celebrations.