Tamil Nadu celebrates Capuchin friar declared "Servant of God"

Friar John Peter Savarinayagam was a "model of holiness", with a continuous tension for the contemplative life.  He dedicated his life to the poor and to the spiritual formation of seminarians.  He is remembered for his serene smile, even at the point of death.

 


New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Church of Tamil Nadu is celebrating because one of its disciples has embarked on the path of sainthood.  On 3 December last, Fr. John Peter Savarinayagam, of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, was declared "Servant of God".  The celebration was held in the church of Amalashram in Tiruchirappalli.  About 5,000 Catholics from all over the state participated.

A reading of the pontifical decree, signed by Card.  Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, officially opened the process of canonization of the friar, who died in 1979 at the age of 38 due to stomach cancer.  Remembered by the confreres as a "model of holiness", he dedicated his life to the poor, to the spiritual formation of seminarians, with a particular tension for the contemplative life.

Friar Peter was born in 1941 in Thiruppanthuruthy, in the district of Thanjavur.  He entered the Capuchin order in 1959 and received priestly ordination in 1969. Fr. A Thainis Arockiasamy, vice postulator of his cause, recalls his "enthusiasm and austerity" during his formative years.

After ordination, he was assigned to the minor seminary of Amalashram (immaculate hermitage) as an educator.  In 1974 he went to Rome to specialize in theology.  There he began to show interest in the spirituality of the mystics such as Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross.  "His calm and serenity - says Fr.  Thainis - attracted him to these great Carmelites”.

Back in India, he became director of the minor seminary, then also spiritual animator of the Sisters of Saint Anne of Tiruchirappalli and of Holy Cross.  He was appreciated for his "holy and spiritual" life, he helped the poor and the suffering, and remained awake at night in adoration of the Eucharist.

In 1978 he began to complain of stomach pain.  After some investigations, he was diagnosed with the incurable disease that led to his death on 2 March 1979. His remains rest in the convent of the Capuchin friars at Amalashram.  His tomb is visited every year by many pilgrims, who lay flowers and candles, remember his loving smile - which lit up his face, despite his illness - and pray for their needs.

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