Wednesday 14 January 2015

Cardinal Ranjith welcomes Pope Francis to Sri Lanka

Pope Francis arrived in Sri Lanka to be greeted by elephants in procession! He was also met by friend of the Order of St Lazarus, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who last year was created Prelate Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, in a presentation by the Grand Prior of Great Britain, Baron Thacker of Fetternear. Our congrtulations to Cardinal Ranjith on the raising of Sri Lanks's first Saint to the altar, Blessed Joseph Vaz, whom Pope Francis declared a saint at Holy Mass at Galle face green park on Wednesday, ending a long wait for the canonization of the 17th century Goan priest.

Church bells rang and people clapped as Pope Francis said, "We declare and define Blessed Joseph Vaz to be Saint and we enrol him among the Saints, decreeing that he is to be venerated as such by the whole Church."

The Pope arrived at the venue on the sea front at 8am and went round the packed ground waving to the crowd. Later, around 9am, he conferred sainthood on the deeply respected priest, as Sri Lankans grateful for their faith, Goans and others who had travelled to the venue and camping since late evening on Tuesday, braving the cold reacted with joy.

Ordained a priest in 1676 in Goa, he arrived in the island nation in 1687 and is known to have founded several churches and chapels, helping revive the faith amidst persecution of Catholics by Calvinists at that time.