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Conversion and Baptism
  1. Discourses by De Lannoy

  2. Eustache De Lannoy was a great believer. The Vadakkankulam diary says, “Truly he was the portrait of his patron saint Eustachius – equally brave, intelligent, holy and sincere in all his ways”.30 De Lannoy consoled his friend Nilakandan by sharing with him his own faith as a Christian. He narrated to him the story of Job in the Old Testament, who was a personification of unconditional trust in God in the face of unbearable tragedies. Nilakandan listened to him with great consolation. He was impressed by Job’s sense of absolute confidence in God which was not evident in his knowledge of the Hindu faith.

    Thus the Word of God was sown on the soil of Nilakandan’s heart. “As pearl evolves within an oyster even so the Dharma of Jesus matured within the soul”.31 The ongoing discussions between both convinced Nilakandan Pillai of the truths of Christian faith and he decided to get baptized.32 He expressed his decision to his friend De Lannoy. It is an eloquent example of evangelization ministry of a lay person, Eustache De Lannoy33. De Lannoy sent Nilakandan with a letter to Fr. Giovanni Battista Buttari, S.J., who was the head of the Neman Mission and was residing at Vadakkankulam.

    There was a reason why the Colonel sent his friend Nilakandan to a Jesuit Mission in Vadakkankulam, which was outside the kingdom of Travancore. Uppermost in the mind of De Lannoy was the Travancore Government’s blanket ban on new conversions to Christianity34. Except for the fisher people along the coast and in the interior hamlets, who had all already embraced Christianity, nobody could newly become a Christian.

    Sometimes people had to go to the distant place of Verapuzha which was under the Dutch control to get baptized there.35 So, De Lannoy had to take an escape route to the Neman Mission near Vadakkankulam, beyond the Travancore border. Of course he knew that it was a risky decision. Moreover, the Captain knew also that, being of a noble tribe, it was dangerous for Nilakandan Pillai to be baptized within Travancore, since the king of Travancore threatened with imprisonment and death every noble man who shall quit his court to become a Christian36.

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FOOT NOTE