Born on the 21st of April (Friday) 1651 in Goa, São José Vaz was a oratorian priest who did missionary work in Sri Lanka even though the Dutch had made Calvinism the official religion. Coincidentally he was baptized on a Friday and he died on the 16th of January 1711 in Kandy Sri Lanka, which was a Friday as well.
His father Cristóvão Vaz who was a devoted Catholic believed that his son would be a great man. The third of six children St. Joseph Vaz was a bright student at school, he respected his teachers and elders.
After he finished his studies St. Joseph Vaz in the year 1675 was ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of Goa, later in the year 1676 he was ordained a priest by the archbishop of Goa, António Brandão.
He wanted to go to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to do missionary work, hence he requested the cathedral chapter. The cathedral chapter sent him to Canara, instead of Ceylon because in Canara the Padroado authorities in Goa were in a conflict with the local authorities. St. Joseph Vaz was appointed as the vicar Forana in Canara in 1681.
When he returned to Goa he spent his time preaching in villages and had also joined a group of priests who lived together in a community.
St. Joseph Vaz did a lot for the people, he baptized, catechised and built over 200 chapels and churches. He also built homes for the sick and poor. He lived their lives, ate what they eat, didn’t wear shoes and would walk bare feet.
As a young boy he would recite the rosary on his way to school and church, when he went to the blessed sacrament in the night at the church in Cortalim, the doors of the church opened by itself to welcome him. Hence he was called ‘The little Saint’ in his village.