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Devasahayam Pillai, who embraced Christianity in the 18th century, was on Sunday declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican, becoming the first Indian layman to be canonised.

Devasahayam was recommended for the process of Beatification by the Vatican in 2004, at the request of the Kottar diocese, Tamil Nadu Bishops' Council and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.

Pope Francis canonised Blessed Devasahayam Pillai along with nine other Blesseds during a Canonisation Mass in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Devasahayam Pillai, a Hindu who converted to Christianity in the 18 th century, will become the first Indian layperson to be conferred sainthood.

According to church records, Devasahayam was born as Neelakanda Pillai in 1712 in the village of Nattalam in Kanyakumari that formed part of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. He assumed the name ‘Lazarus’ or Devasahayam that translates to ‘God is my help’ after embracing Christianity in 174

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