Joseph Vaz carried his mission to the main centres of the island with his group of Goan Bammon (the Roman Catholic Brahmin) priests. As their Superior, Joseph Vaz directed the work of all the Missionaries. The priests under his leadership and inspiration moved about undercover and served the persecuted Catholic population in Ceylon. Joseph Vaz paid them frequent visits, encouraging them with his indefatigable zeal. He was cherished and venerated by all.
As there were resident Missionaries in all the principal towns of Ceylon, Joseph Vaz was continually on the move. He visited the Missions along with one or two priests and a few devoted Catholics. He went from village to village wherever there were Catholics or the hope of converting the Buddhists and Hindus. Sometimes, he went out of his way to visit a single Catholic.
Many former Catholics, who under compulsion or for worldly interests apostatized, returned to the Catholic Faith after performing required penance.
Joseph Vaz had taught the Christian Faith to a young man from an influential family. He was a page at the Royal Court and was bound to go wherever the King went. As the lad wished to become a Christian, it was not always possible for him to avoid going to the temples along with the King.
Seeing the precarious position of the young man, Joseph Vaz advised him to withdraw from the Court. Following the advice of the priest, the lad went to a remote village to live. Sadly, because of the idle life in the village, the young man, now living far from the saint, lost his innocence. By and by, he plunged into vice. Eventually, he got married.
When Joseph Vaz came to know the fate of the young man, he prayed to God for him, and hoped that he would one day become an instrument in the hand of God for the salvation of many.
One night when the young man tried to sleep, he remembered his early youth, of the saintly priest and of his pious instructions.The thoughts tormented him. Struck with remorse at his apostasy, and at the wicked life he had led since, he spent the rest of the night in prayer. At dawn, he along with a Catholic neighbour went to the capital.
Since Joseph Vaz had gone to visit the Missions, the young man found Father Pedro de Saldanha whom he did not know. So, without revealing his identity to the priest, he humbly begged the priest to admit him among the catechumens.
After a few days, Father Saldanha on observing the young man’s piety and knowing he was perfectly instructed in the Christian Faith wished to baptize him. Then, the young man prostrated himself at the feet of the priest and told him his story. He made a general confession and resolved to expiate his crime by working for the glory of God and left.
Some days later, Father Saldanha went to his place, baptized him and his family, and blessed their marriage. The once recalcitrant young man now brought over to the Catholic Faith forty more people.
The news of such the mass conversion infuriated the anti-Christian mob. They were afraid that the conversion of the young man would induce others to follow his example, and that he would use his influence to help the priests in their Apostolate.
The Buddhist mob knew from their past encounters with the King that neither political considerations nor their threat of rebellion could move him from his sincere affection for the Catholic priests. So, they sought to rouse his religious and his superstitious sensitivity.
At that time, as even now, the Buddhists of Ceylon were imbibed with all the superstitions of the Hindus. For the Hindus, the cow was most sacred. In many countries in India, killing a cow was the greatest and heinous crime that one could ever commit. It was equal to murdering three Brahmins on the shores of the sacred Ganges. And, the punishment decreed for the crime of killing a cow was death.
The mob told to King that Father Pedro de Saldanha had baptized the young man, once a page of the King and all his companions with the blood of a cow. As such, it was clear that his Superior Joseph Vaz and his Missionaries too were killing many cows. The Buddhist King, in dire indignation, ordered the last six converts, whom Father Saldanha had baptized, thrown into prison and to confiscate their properties.
This was a great setback for Joseph Vaz. Fearing a renewal of persecutions, he prayed to God to avert this new danger from His Church. Fortunately, there were then two factions at the Royal Court: one opposed to the Catholics and hostile to the Catholics, and the other enlightened, or indifferent, and hospitable to the Catholics. The latter faction approached the King and proved to him that the Catholic Missionaries had been slandered; that the Catholic Missionaries never killed cows; and that they baptized the converts with water to which they added a little oil with balm.
The King, realizing his folly immediately ordered the release of the six prisoners and restored their properties. The released men went straight from jail to the church to thank God for their liberation.
It was the last persecution that the Catholics of the Kandy Kingdom had to suffer during the lifetime of Joseph Vaz. From then onwards the saintly priest was able to spread the Catholic Faith in peace in the whole kingdom.
Next → Part 17 – The Apostle of Ceylon and the New King of Kandy
← Previous: Part 15 – Six More Missionaries Come from India
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 1 – THE EARLY YEARS
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 2 – THE CONFLICT BETWEEN PADROADO REAL AND PROPAGANDA FIDE (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 3 – THE APOSTLE OF KANARA
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 4 – PERSECUTION OF CATHOLICS IN CEYLON BY THE DUTCH (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 5 – TRAVEL TO CEYLON (SRI LANKA) tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 6 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA IN JAFFNAPATTINAM (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 7 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA IN PUTTALAM (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 8 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA ARRESTED AT WEUDA ON THE WAY TO KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 9 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA IN PRISON IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 10 – BEGINNING OF THE APOSTLATE IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 11 – THE MIRACLE OF RAIN IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 12 – THE APOSTLE VISITS DUTCH COLOMBO (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 13 – MISSIONARIES ARRIVE FROM GOA (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 14 – SMALLPOX EPIDEMIC IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 15 – SIX MORE MISSIONARIES COME FROM INDIA (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 17 – THE APOSTLE OF CEYLON AND THE NEW KING OF KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 18 – THE LAST DAYS AND THE DEATH OF THE APOSTLE (tvaraj.com)
- Joseph Vaz (en.wikipedia.org)
- St. Joseph Vaz, a son of Goa ( joegoauk.blogspot.in)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ (josephnaikvaz.org)
- Blessed Joseph Vaz (newadvent.org)
- “Without the Blessed Vaz, there would be no priest on the island”(asianews.it)
- Bl. Joseph Vaz, first saint to Sri Lanka (en.radiovaticana.va)
- The Apostle of Sri Lanka: Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651-1711)
- Kingdom of Kandy (en.wikipedia.org)
- APOSTOLIC JOURNEY (blessedjosephvaz.org)0
- Vimaladharmasuriya II of Kandy (en.wikipedia.org)
- History of Ceylon: An Abridged Translation of Professor Peter Courtenay’s Work (books.google.co.in)
- THE GREAT INDIAN MISSIONARY (blessedjosephvaz.org)
- Colombo (en.wikipedia.org)
- Blessed Joseph Vaz – Apostle of Sri Lanka (avemaria.bravepages.com)
- Foundation for an Indigenous Church (sundayobserver.lk)
- Pope Francis lauds first Sri Lankan saint’s ‘undivided love for God’ (catholicnewsagency.com)
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