Saint Joseph Vaz
Saint Joseph Vaz, CO, the first saint of Goan origin was born on the 21 of April 1651 and died on the 16 January 1711 in Kandy (Ceylon, now Sri Lanka), was an Oratorian priest and missionary in Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka). In 1676, he was ordained a priest by the Archbishop of Goa, António Brandão, S.O.Cist. Soon after his ordination, he started going barefoot to live like the poor and acquired a reputation as a popular preacher and confessor. He opened a Latin school in Sancoale for prospective seminarians. In 1677 he consecrated himself as a "slave of Mary", sealing it with a document known as the "Deed of Bondage".
Hearing of the distressful situation of the Catholics of Ceylon who reportedly had no priests for many years, Vaz desired to go to their rescue. But instead he was named Superior of the Canara Mission, a post which he occupied for three years. In 1686, Vaz obtained permission to give up this office and to proceed to Ceylon. He stopped in the Keladi Kingdom in 1686–1687 for a few months on his way to Ceylon, where helped by his companions, he attended to the spiritual needs of the local Christians. Disguised as a mendicant, he reached the port of Tuticorin on Easter Sunday 1687.
Vaz entered Ceylon during the Dutch occupation, when Calvinism had been imposed as the official religion, after taking over from the Portuguese. He travelled throughout the island bringing the Eucharist and the sacraments to clandestine groups of Catholics. Later in his mission, he found shelter in the Kingdom of Kandy where he was able to work freely. By the time of his death, Vaz had managed to rebuild the Catholic Church on the island.
As a result of his labors, Vaz is known as the Apostle of Ceylon. On 21 January 1995, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Colombo.
He will be canonized on 14 January 2015by Pope Francis in Sri Lanka.