Sri Lanka (Tuesday, 01/06/2015, Gaudium Press) – In his first 2015 Apostolic trip Pope Francis will travel to Sri Lanka to canonize Father Joseph Vaz, a Catholic priest who will become the first saint of that country.
The Pope will stop in Sri Lanka January 13th to January 15th on his way to the Philippines.
Sri Lanka ‘s population is approximately 20 millions. Of those one million are Catholics
Christianity has arrived to the country in the midst of wars and natural disasters. It was colonized by Portuguese, Dutch and English.
Father Ruban Fernando, a Catholic Priest in Sri Lanka says:”When the Portuguese arrived in our country, almost all the population of the coastal area of Sri Lanka converted to Catholicism.
Afterwards we were colonized by the Dutch. At that time the Catholic Church had a lot to suffer, our Churches were destroyed and Catholics were tortured for practicing their Faith publically. “
In the 16th century, a Catholic priest, Father Joseph Vaz, a missionary from India, played a decisive role in the propagation and survival of the faith in Sri Lanka. The Pope, in his upcoming visit, will canonize Father Joseph Vaz. He will become the first saint to be canonized from that country.
“We received the Faith from him, says Father Ruban Fernando, “he came from India and he converted our people. He traveled throughout Sri Lanka by foot and converted many people to Catholicism.”
Despite years of wars and natural disasters, as the tsunami that hit the region in 2004, the country remains strong, finding its strength in Faith.
Father Ruban continues: “During the war, the only thing that kept people going, and helped them to endure their sufferings, was their Faith. When people were asked “what do you still have” they answered: “We have nothing left, the only things we still have is our Bible, our rosary, and our prayer books. That is enough for us. That is the only thing we still have”
This will be the second visit of a Pope to Sri Lanka. Pope Saint John Paul II visited the country in 1995. (ANH)