Saint Devasahayam Pillai

detail of a photograph of a statue of Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, artist unknown, date unknown; Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral, Kottar, Nagercoil, India; photographed by Kumbalam on 5 July 2013; swiped off Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Lazarus
  • Neelakandan
  • Neelam
  • Nilakandan
  • Nilam



Devasahayam was raised a high-caste Hindu, knew Sanskrit, Tamil and Malayalam, and was trained martial arts and archery. He was married, and held a civil service job in the royal treasury. Beginning in 1741, he learned about Catholicism from a French prisoner of war, converted to the faith, and was baptized on 14 May 1745 in the diocese of Kottar, India, taking the name Devasahayam, the Tamil equivalent of the meaning of the name Lazarus.

Lazarus drew the ire of and fell into confrontation with authorities because he mixed with lower castes, something not acceptable for higher-caste people. He was arrested on 23 February 1749 for his faith, he was tortured and abused, and then for three years was hauled from village to village as an example of what would happen to Christian converts. He spent the time in prayer and teaching any who would listen, and priests would sneak him Communion in his cell. Martyr.






MLA Citation

  • “Saint Devasahayam Pillai“. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 November 2021. Web. 18 January 2022. <>