Blessed Joseph Vaz will soon become Sri Lanka's first saint after Pope Francis Sept. 17 advanced his cause for canonization by waiving the requirement for a second miracle. The canonization of the 16th century cleric is expected to take place during the Holy Father's visit to Sri Lanka in January, 2015. An Indian-born priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651-1711) he became an “apostle” for Sri Lanka at a time when Catholics were suffering persecution at the hands of Calvinist Dutch rulers. The soon-to-be declared saint was also also the founder of the Oratory of the Holy Cross of Miracles in Goa. Typically, two miracles attributed to a Blessed are required before he or she can be declared a saint. Donald Prudlo, an associate professor of ancient and medieval history for Jacksonville State University, told CNA that it's within the realm of the Pope's authority to dispense with this second miracle. He stressed, however, that the presence of at least one miracle is essential. Without this, “it would be difficult to call it a canonization in the strict sense...since at the very heart of public sanctity in the Church is holiness of life, confirmed by the testimony of God in miracles.” An example of such a decision by a pontiff was evidenced earlier this year when Pope Francis canonized John XXIII without the presence of a second miracle. “The Pope clearly wants to provide an example of holiness that is relatable to the people of Sri Lanka,” Prudlo said.
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