“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom 8: 35).
One of the questions placed before the witnesses at the diocesan enquiry for Cause of the Servant of Devasahayam is: “Has his life inspired you or influenced you? If so, how?”114 The same question was asked to the members of Historical commission is a different way: “The saints are proposed to the faithful as models to lead them to a holy life. Is Servant of God Devasahayam such a person? Why?”115 In answering this question, almost all the 109 witnesses and all the three members of the Historical Commission have pointed out to the fortitude of the Servant of God. Professor Ignaci, who created an epic on Devasahayam Pillai, says:
«The life of the Servant of God is an inspiration to me. It has inspired me to write an epic about him.”116 “The life of the Servant of God teaches us that religious zeal is based on personal principles. To face sufferings for the sake of the religion that a person has adopted is his duty»117.
Mr. Varghese Antony, a research scholar on Devasahayam Pillai and a member of Historical Commission says:
«The Servant of God Devasahayam is an exemplar for a life of heroic faith. He was ready to loose any material good and even daringly declared that he was willing to be tortured or even to be put to death for Christ.»118
Mr. M. George of Puliyoorkurichy says:
«What I consider to be the message of the Servant of God to today’s world: If we are strong in the faith like the Servant of God, we too can live good lives».119 On other words, the witnesses have been impressed by Devasahayam Pillai’s virtue of fortitude. In the light of what St. Thomas Aquinas writes about the virtue of fortitude of martyrs,120 we can elicit two aspects of this virtue in Devasahayam Pillai. The first is that his life and death are a witness of fortitude to defend his Christian faith. The second is that his fortitude was born out of his live for Christ and for Christians.
- Fortitude to Defend Faith:
Professor A. K. Perumal, a highly educated person and a Hindu scholar who has done some special studies and has also written a book on the Servant of God,121 says clearly,
«The Servant of God did not falter at all in his faith… I think that the best worship to God is that every individual is loyal to his principles, strong in his beliefs and lives life of love for humanity. I believe that the Servant of God bore testimony to this with his life.»122
People were and are still touched by his perseverant faith, seeing that his tortures continued nearly for three long years, from 23rd February 1749 to 14th January 1752. So much so even his executioners and guards were fed up and found it too long to keep him. But “the Servant of God never hesitated or doubted or went back in his Christian faith”.123 We speak here of a supernatural virtue of fortitude of faith, a work of grace of God, and not just a human quality of bravery. It is a “gratuitous fortitude (which) strengthens man’s soul in the good of Divine justice, which is through faith in Christ Jesus” (cf. Rom 3:22).124 Aware of his dependence on God for this virtue, the Servant of God prayed intensely for the grace of courage and strength125and he also asked others to pray for him so that he might not give in to fear and might be bold in bearing witness even at the moment of his death.126 In fact he had not only overcome fear, which is the first step, but even turned his emotions into one of happiness in dying for Christ, which was visible by the “a perpetual smile on his lips, and great cheerfulness in his look”.127