January 16 – St. Joseph Vaz

 

St. Joseph Vaz is described as the apostle of Sri Lanka. He was born in Goa on 21st April 1651. He was ordained priest in 1676. When the Catholics in Sri Lanka were persecuted by the Dutch colonizers, Fr. Joseph Vaz volunteered to work with them. From Goa he came to Tuticorin, from where he took the ship to Sri Lanka. He landed in Mannar, Sri Lanka in1687.

From there he went to Jaffna and started the missionary work among the Tamils. Gradually his ministry took him far and wide in the island. He worked tirelessly all alone among the Catholics in very hard situations. He died on 16th January 1711. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1995.

Joseph Vaz was canonized by Pope Francis on 14 January 2015 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Saint Joseph Vaz is the first saint to have been canonised in Sri Lanka, the first saint of Sri Lanka (having died there) and first originally from the area of Goa, India.

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