Saint Joseph Vaz is a patron saint of Sri Lanka, known for his tireless efforts to spread Catholicism in the region during the 17th century. Born on April 21st, 1651, in Benaulim, Goa, India, he dedicated his life to the service of God and the people of Sri Lanka.
At the age of 24, Vaz was ordained a priest, and he began his missionary work in Sri Lanka in 1687. At the time, Sri Lanka was under Dutch colonial rule, which had suppressed the practice of Catholicism. Vaz had to carry out his work in secret, often disguising himself as a beggar to avoid detection.
Despite the challenges, Joseph Vaz managed to establish Catholic churches in various parts of Sri Lanka and win the trust of the people. He also helped to establish a seminary for the education of local priests.
Joseph Vaz's work in Sri Lanka continued for over two decades until his death on January 16th, 1711, in Kandy. He was known for his selflessness and devotion to the people, even in the face of persecution. He was fluent in several languages, including Portuguese, Sinhalese, Tamil, and Konkani. He was also known for his ascetic lifestyle, often living on a diet of bread and water and sleeping on the bare ground.
Saint Joseph Vaz's canonization took place on January 14, 2015, by Pope Francis, who declared him a saint. He was the first saint from Sri Lanka and was canonized for his exemplary life of service to God and the people.
The feast day of Saint Joseph Vaz is celebrated on January 16th. It is a day of special significance for Catholics in Sri Lanka, who remember him as a pioneer of the faith in the region.
Today, Saint Joseph Vaz is remembered as a symbol of hope and perseverance, who dedicated his life to the service of God and the people of Sri Lanka. His legacy continues to inspire people around the world.