Saint Devasahayam Pillai | Saint of the day | January 14

Prayer to Saint Devasahayam Pillai

Holy Saint Devasahayam, for the love of Christ you willingly and patiently underwent torments and tortures, sacrificing your life to obtain the joy of eternal beatitude and veneration at the altars of the Church. We praise and thank God for blessing the world with your glorious witness. You dedicated your days to preaching the Kingdom of God, leaving behind all worldly pleasures of wealth, status, fame and glory. As a true disciple of Christ you faithfully put into practice the values of the Gospel with charity towards all people. Assist us in following your example, by leaving behind vain pleasures to live as holy children of the Father; faithfully practicing the virtues of Christ. May we one day enter into eternal life to be with you and our glorious God forever. Amen.

Saint Devasahayam Pillai’s Story

Neelakandan Pillai was born into an affluent Hindu family in 1712. As a young man he went into the service of the royal household in India’s Travancore province. Eventually put in charge of state affairs, Pillai became acquainted with Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, the Dutch naval commander who trained the king of Travancore’s forces. Their relationship awakened Pillai’s interest in the captain’s Christian faith. At his baptism in 1745, Pillai chose the name Lazarus, or Devasahayam in the Malayalam language. His wife and other members of his family were baptized at the same time.

Soon after, Pillai’s enemies convinced the royal court that he was using his position to force others to convert, leading to his imprisonment. European Christians in Travancore came to Pillai’s defense, urging the king to release him. After three years the king complied under condition that Pillai go into exile to a hostile territory. Though beaten and tortured almost daily, Pillai consistently responded with kindness, openly praying for his captors. Shot to death by local soldiers in 1752, Pillai’s body was transported to St. Xavier Church in Kottar. Later when his remains were interred beneath the altar, the site became a popular pilgrimage destination.

In 2012, Devasahayam Pillai became the first Indian layman not connected to any religious institute to be beatified. Ten years later he was canonized in Rome. His liturgical feast is celebrated on January 14.