A movie based on the life St. Joseph Vaz had its Tamil version launch in Colombo April 25. St. Joseph Vaz a missionary from the Portuguese colony of Goa on the western coast of India was an Oratorian priest and described as ‘Asia’s greatest missionary’.
The movie directed by Sanajaya Nirmal, a Catholic, aims at promoting and popularizing the Indian-born saint among Sri Lankan Christians.
"Such an inspirational film should not be limited to the Sinhala language but be available in Tamil as well. We should be able to share the powerful message of St. Joseph Vaz in both local languages," Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando of Kandy said at the launch of the Tamil-language version of the film.
The release of the new version of the film comes after a decision by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka to dedicate 2017 as the year of St. Joseph Vaz, the island nation's first saint, a missionary from the Portuguese colony of Goa on the western coast of India who is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in Sri Lanka.
Joseph Vaz was produced and dubbed by the Catholic Center for Social Communication, the media arm of the Sri Lankan bishops' conference. The Tamil-dubbed version will be screened in churches and Sunday schools in the Northern Province and other areas where Tamil Christians are numerous.
Sanjaya Nirmal, a well-known filmmaker, said that though this was a film about a Catholic saint and the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, there was large contribution from Buddhist artists and technicians. Many prominent roles in the film are played by Buddhists and several them did not ask for any pay while others charged much less than their usual payments, he added.
St. Vaz later won the friendship of the Buddhist king of Kandy from where he ran eight missions serving more than 60 mission stations. Born in 1651, St. Vaz was ordained as a priest in 1676. He died in 1711.
Popularly known as the Apostle of Sri Lanka, St. Vaz was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Sri Lanka in 1995 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2015, also in Sri Lanka. (UCAN)