Goa Church crosses fingers over first Goan origin saint

Goa Church has its fingers crossed over reports in the international media which suggest that Blessed Joseph Vaz, a 17th century Catholic priest of Goan origin, could be canonised as Sri Lanka's first saint and Goa's first too.

Panaji: Goa Church has its fingers crossed over reports in the international media which suggest that Blessed Joseph Vaz, a 17th century Catholic priest of Goan origin, could be canonised as Sri Lanka's first saint and Goa's first too.

A news report from Colombo suggests that Pope Francis, during a papal visit to the island nation, was likely to announce Vaz's elevation to sainthood.

"Catholics in Goa and Sri Lanka are hoping that the canonisation of Bl. Joseph Vaz will happen as soon as possible. We have been hoping for a long time," the secretary to the Archbishop in Goa, Fr. Joaquim Loiola Pereira, told IANS.

Goa has a 26 percent Catholic population and was one of the early South Asian regions to have embraced Christianity after being colonised by the Portuguese in the early 16th century.

The Friday report quoted Sri Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith as saying that the Pope would visit the country Jan 13-15.

"The archbishop (said) he hopes the final approval for the miracle that will clear the way for the sainthood of Blessed Joseph Vaz will be completed in time for an open Mass at Colombo's Galle Face Green during which the canonisation can be completed," the report said.

"We have no intimation that it will happen during the Pope's visit to Sri Lanka. We would not wish to speculate on the likelihood or not because it is not in our hands," Pereira said.

Vaz was born in Goa in 1676 before leaving for Sri Lanka.