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Saint Joseph Vaz
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Religious Figure
    (April 21, 1651-January 16, 1711)
    Born in Goa, India
    Catholic priest
    Canonized a saint of the Catholic Church on January 14, 2015 by Pope Francis I
    Referred to as the Apostle of Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
    Known for his personal holiness and missionary zeal in the spreading of the Catholic faith in Sri Lanka
    Founded the religious order, Oratory of Saint Philip Neri
    He was hampered by secular and Church politics and didn't deal with either force particularly well.
    His supporters have a poor website of which a large part is dedicated to criticizing other missionaries.
    His canonization cause started in 1737 but he wasn't canonized until 2015.
    He is largely forgotten today.
    His disguising himself as a Hindu holy man to try and convert Hindus has infuriated some Hindus.
    He wasn't from Sri Lanka itself, but rather from Portuguese Goa in nearby India.
    Although he met with great success, Catholics still remain a tiny minority in Sri Lanka today.
    Pope Francis waived the traditional requirement of a second miracle when canonizing him.
    In twenty-four years of undercover missionary work in Sri Lanka, he made over 30,000 converts, all while hiding from native Hindu and Dutch Calvinist authorities who had banned Catholic priests from the island for over thirty years.
    He became the first non-European to found a Catholic religious order when he started the Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri.
    There was at least one attempt on his life by the Hindus who were angry at his successful conversion attempts.
    Unlike some Christian missionaries, he didn't use some type of bribe (food, power, etc.) to win converts.
    He was called Sammana Swami (Angelic Father) by his followers.
    He went barefoot like his (mostly) poverty-stricken flock.
    He once caught dysentery.
    He was a formidable linguist; in addition to Portuguese, he knew Latin and several Indian/Sri Lankan dialects.
    As an Indian native, he didn't carry the colonial baggage that a European missionary would have.
    He accomplished all he did with little help -- and indeed sometimes against considerable interference -- from the rest of the Catholic Church.
    His canonization was a source of great pride and unity for Sri Lankans of all faiths.

Credit: tom_jeffords


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