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St. Joseph Vaz

Born: April 21, 1651

Died:  January 16, 1711

Feast day: January 16

Patron saint of: N/A

To say that St. Joseph Vaz was born in interesting times would be a vast understatement. Born in Portuguese-occupied India to a Catholic family, he spent his formative years studying philosophy and theology, and was ordained a priest in 1675. His early priesthood was defined by a closeness to the poor and a deep discernment that his missionary spirit was needed in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). In 1686, the opportunity finally arrived for him to minister to the island’s Catholics, who were in severe crisis. Occupied by the Dutch who were imposing Calvinism on the people, Sri Lanka was without Catholic priests. In the face of such persecution, many Catholics had to go into hiding—and these were precisely the groups of people to whom Father Vaz brought the sacraments during his time on the island. In the face of such overwhelming obstacles, Father Vaz found a way to minister to people in need. He was relentless in his desire to bring the Eucharist and the sacraments to persecuted Catholics in the country. What can we do to bring Jesus to people who seek him?

John T. Grosso

Image: Zeitgenössischer Maler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons