Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah, Bishop in South India

2 January -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Bishops, page 483

Samuel Azariah was born in 1874 in a small village in South India, his father, Thomas Vedanayagam being a simple village priest and his mother Ellen having a deep love and understanding of the Scriptures. Samuel became a YMCA evangelist whilst still only nineteen, and secretary of the organisation throughout South India a few years later. He saw that, for the Church in India to grow and attract ordinary Indians to the Christian faith, it had to have an indigenous leadership and reduce the strong western influences and almost totally white leadership that pervaded it. He was ordained priest at the age of thirty-five and bishop just three years later, his work moving from primary evangelism to forwarding his desire for more Indian clergy and the need to raise their educational standards. He was an avid ecumenist and was one of the first to see the importance to mission of a united Church. He died on 1 January 1945, just two years before the creation of a united Church of South India.