First Indian layman beatified
Our first story is something we covered in part last summer. That was when Pope Benedict placed two Indian laymen on the road to canonization.
One of them was 18th century Hindu convert Devasahayam Pillai, whom His Holiness recognized as a martyr.
As you probably know, Hinduism relies on a firmly entrenched caste system, and Pillai was born in 1712 as a member of one the upper castes. He entered the royal bureaucracy and was a close advisor of King Marthanda Varma.
However, when he and his wife became Catholics in 1745, the King and others in the upper castes became extremely upset, and His Majesty demanded that he revert to Hinduism.
The Church claims his refusal to do so is why he was arrested in 1749 and martyred in 1752.
With the affirmation of his martyrdom and the miracle, the Church was able to beatify Bl. Devasahayam, which it did on December 2, in Nagercoil, India. And if you want to know where that is, it’s easy: Just pull out any global map and look at the very bottom of that country. That is where the beatification took place.
According to Eurasia Review, “Over thousand priests and nuns … [attended] … the event,” as did many “Political leaders.”
He is the first Indian lay blessed. His feast is January 14.
Canonization imminent for Italy’s “Bravehearts”
This one really excites me. When the Pope met with representatives of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on December 20, he approved making venerable nine Servants of God (including Pope Paul VI), he declared 34 Servants of God as martyrs, which effectively makes them blesseds, he ratified miracles for five venerables—which puts them in line for beatification, as well—and he declared miracles legitimate for 802 blesseds, which means they’ll soon be declared saints.
Wait! What?! Eight hundred and two blesseds had their miracles approved? Yep, that’s right. Two were women religious who founded orders, and the other 800 were martyrs at Otranto, a city on the far southeastern side of Italy.
What happened was this. In the late 1400s, the same Muslim sultan who had conquered Constantinople in 1452 decided he wanted to conquer Rome. So he sent a huge fleet that was supposed to land at Bari. It was a great plan, except the Islamic armada got blown off course and had to land in Otranto. The people of that city fought bravely for two weeks before the Muslim forces finally broke through the city’s walls.
After this, the conquerors killed the oldest and youngest, enslaved the children under 15 and the women, and they gave the men 15 to 65 twenty-four hours to make a choice: Lose your Catholic faith or lose your head. Every one of these 800 men chose to lose their head.
Their leader was an old tailor named Antonio Primaldi, who was so strong in exhorting his fellow Otrantans to stand firm that the Muslim commander saw to it that his head was chopped off first. However, then the unexpected happened. Bl. Antonio’s headless body is said to have stood and remained standing despite efforts to topple it until the last condemned man had given his life. This witness was supposedly so powerful, that one of the Muslim soldiers converted on the spot. He, too, was quickly dispatched.
No word yet on when the canonization will take place.