Life of St Joseph Vaz
Apostle of Kanara and Sri Lanka
1651 – Born in Benaulim, Goa, India, on April 21.
1676 – Is ordained a priest. Shortly after, volunteers to go to Sri Lanka where the Dutch were persecuting Catholics and had banned all priests from entering the island. The Chapter of Goa refuses his offer because the mission would have meant certain death for him.
1681 – Is sent to rescue the almost extinct mission in Kanara, present-day Karnataka in India. Rebuilds the Church in Mangalore and Kanara, establishes missions, tends to the sick, ransoms prisoners.
1684 – Returns to Goa and joins a band of native Indian priests who formed a community.
1685 – Founds a religious Congregation, the ‘Oratory of St. Philip Neri’, on September 25.
1686 – Leaves Goa secretly and sets out for Sri Lanka.
1687 – Arrives in Jaffna in the Tamil region of Sri Lanka, with a servant, John Vaz, both disguised as coolies. He works with a price on his head.
1691 – Is almost captured by the Dutch and is advised to go to Kandy. Is brought into Kandy in chains and imprisoned as a Portuguese spy by the Buddhist King, Vimaladharna Surya II.
1693 – Works a miracle of rain during a severe drought. The King releases him and gives him protection and freedom to preach in his kingdom. As in Goa and in Mangalore, is often seen in ecstasy in prayer. The people call him “Sammana Swami” or Angelic Father.
1697 – Is joined by three of his Indian Oratorians from Goa. During a small-pox epidemic in Kandy, the King and the people flee the capital. Fr. Vaz and Fr. Carvalho, tend to the dying and abandoned victims for almost two years.
1705 – Dedicates the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu.
1711 – Dies in Kandy on January 16, after 23 years of arduous missionary work in Sri Lanka.