A book on the life and death of Saint Devasahayam has been released this week by the Catholic Church in India following the saint’s canonization on Sunday, May 15.
Devasahayam Pillai, known as Lazarus, an 18th century Hindu convert to Christianity, became the first Indian layman to be canonized by the Church.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, said the canonization of India’s first married layman saint and martyr is significant for Christians who suffer in silence for their faith.
The book titled “Saint Devasahayam: Martyrdom of Devasahayam a Grace to the Church in India” was released in Mumbai on Wednesday, May 18.
At the book launch, Cardinal Gracias urged the faithful to be courageous and follow the example of Saint Devasahayam.
The cardinal described the Indian saint as “a beacon for all suffering people” and his brave suffering “an inspiration.”
“He is courageous with deep conviction and a living legend,” said the cardinal, who heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Cardinal Gracias handed the first copy of the book to Cherylanne Menezes, a member of the advisory board of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in India’s Youth Commission.
The articles in the book were compiled by Father John Kulandai, vice postulator for the Cause of Canonization of Martyr Devasahayam.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church could not be said of the Indian Church,” read part of the book.
“There were indeed many sufferings for the Indian Christians, but only one bravely reached the palm of martyrdom, whose name in Tamil is Devasahayam,” it added.
The 114-page book describes in detail the religious, social, political, and economic situation of southern India in the 18th century under the kingship of Marthanda Varma.
“It is a must read book to understand India’s first lay saint and the times he belonged to and to appreciate his martyrdom,” said Father Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary general of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.