Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay and one of the topmost consultors of Pope Francis urges everyone to become holy like Devasahayam, the new Indian saint.
Cardinal Gracias was giving a homily during the National Thanksgiving Prayer Service, conducted from the tomb of Saint Devasahayam at St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Kottar on 24 June on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
At the same time, India also consecrated all Indian families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and paid tribute to the Saint Devasahayam on June 24, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“Saint Devasahayam’s life reminds us that the vocation to holiness extends to all Christians, not just priests and religious. The canonization of the first married lay martyr from India is a very significant landmark, particularly in the history of the Church in India,” said Cardinal Gracias.
Saint Devasahayam is the first Indian lay martyr, canonized by Pope Francis on May 15.
He was a Hindu who converted to Christianity in the 18th century. A few years after his conversion, he was imprisoned for renouncing his faith.
Devasahayam, an official in the court of the king of the erstwhile Travancore, continued preaching Christianity until he was shot dead on Jan. 14, 1752, in the Aralvaimozhy forest in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district, south India.
Cardinal-Elect Filipe Neri Ferrão, the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) and the Archbishop of Goa consecrated all families to Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Archbishop George Antonysamy of Madras-Mylapore, vice president of CCBI led the prayer service. Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, secretary general of CCBI along with Bishop Nazarene Soosai of Kottar and Sister Annie Kuttikadu, SMI recited the psalmody.
Father John Kulandai, vice postulator, Canonization of Saint Devasahayam proclaimed the Gospel.
Father Yesu Karunanidhi, executive secretary to the CCBI Commission for Bible along with seven Catholics from different parts of India led the prayers of the faithful in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali and Badga, languages.
Archbishop Thomas J. Netto of Trivandrum recited the prayer to Saint Devasahayam. The litany to Saint Devasahayam sung by the choir invoking the intercession of the saint.
Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai recited the concluding prayer and Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India gave the Eucharistic Benediction.
All Catholics in India spend one hour as one family and renewed their consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In circular issued by the president of the CCBI requested all religious communities, seminaries, hostels and other Catholic institutions to participate in the Prayer Service and intercede for the mediation of Saint Devasahayam.
The Thanksgiving Prayer Service was telecasted on Catholic satellite television channels like Madha TV, Shalom TV, Goodness TV, Shekinah TV, Divyavani TV, Atmadarshan TV, Ishvani TV, CCR TV and Prarthana Bhawan TV and streamed through leading Catholic YouTube channels. - Stephen Alathara
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