VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis signed off Wednesday on Sri Lanka’s first saint, bending the Vatican’s rules once again to bypass the usual requirement that a second miracle be confirmed.
Francis is expected to canonize the Rev. Giuseppe Vaz, a 17th-century missionary, during his January visit to Sri Lanka.
Vaz was born in Goa, India, in 1651, but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers, who were Calvinists. He is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in the country.
The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis approved a decision by the Vatican’s saint-making office to canonize Vaz. Usually, the Vatican must approve one miracle for beatification, and a second one for canonization. The pope usually signs an official decree attesting to the miracles.
But Francis bent the rules in the case of Vaz, using the same process he applied to canonize St. John XXIII without a second miracle attributed to his intercession.
Francis has waived such rules on several occasions now, convinced that the faithful need more models of holiness and that saints like Pope John don’t need the technical, time-consuming and costly process of miracle-confirmation to be offered up as saints.
Francis has also promised to give Asia more saints. During his recent visit to South Korea, he promised to speak to “my friend Angelo” – the head of the Vatican’s saint-making office – after a young Cambodian complained her country had no homegrown saints.