Pope to canonise Joseph Vaz as Sri Lanka’s first saint

joseph vazPope Francis has approved Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651-1711) as Sri Lanka’s first saint. Pope Francis is expected to canonize the Rev. Giuseppe Baz, a 17th-century missionary, during his January visit to Sri Lanka.

Joseph Vaz was born in Goa, India, in 1651, but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers, and is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in the country.

Pope Francis approved the decision by the Vatican’s saint-making office to canonize Vaz. The process was the same Francis used to canonize St. John XXIII without a second miracle attributed to his intercession.

The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis approved a decision by the Vatican’s saint-making office to canonize Vaz. Usually, the Vatican must approve one miracle for beatification, and a second one for canonization. The pope usually signs an official decree attesting to the miracles.

He is the first non-European native in modern times to found a Mission and Church in a “Third World” country, to found a fully native Catholic Religious Congregation.

Pope Francis has waived such rules on several occasions now, convinced that the faithful need more models of holiness and that saints like Pope John don’t need the technical, time-consuming and costly process of miracle-confirmation to be offered up as saints.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s leading prelate, has expressed both that Pope Francis’s January visit to the South Asian nation will foster reconciliation between both sides in the nation’s civil war, which took place from 1983 to 2009.“The visit to our Marian shrine at Madhu, in the Tamil area, will express precisely this message.” Joseph Vaz rescued and expanded the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, one of the 5 officially crowned Marian Shrines of the Church.

Francis has also promised to give Asia more saints.

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