Panaji: Goa subsidises Catholic pilgrimage to Sri Lanka

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Panaji, Jan 7 (IANS) Goa’s BJP-led coalition government Wednesday launched a scheme to subsidise travel costs for 500 Goans who are keen to witness the canonisation ceremony of Blessed Joseph Vaz, a Catholic priest of Goan-origin, in Sri Lanka.

Vaz will be canonized Jan 14 and will be Sri Lanka’s first Catholic saint.

The policy which was officially unveiled Wednesday allows 500 Goan pilgrim with an Indian passport to undertake a four-day tour and covers 50 percent of the airfare to and from Sri Lanka or Rs.12,000 whichever is lower.

Only two members of a family, whose annual income does not exceed Rs.3 lakh will be covered under the scheme, a government spokesperson said.

Vaz was born in Goa Apr 21, 1651, at a time when the colonial Portuguese forces were already entrenched in the state for nearly 150 years.

In 1686, Vaz left for Sri Lanka to propagate Catholicism in Dutch-held Sri Lanka, where Calvinism, a major Protestant branch, had begun taking root.

His socio-religious contributions in the island country earned him accolades and the title Blessed subsequently. His canonisation ceremony will be presided over by Pope Francis.

Out of Goa’s 1.5 lakh population, nearly 26 percent are Roman Catholics.


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