Pope Francis has signed off on Sri Lanka's first saint, bending Vatican rules to bypass confirmation of a miracle.

Francis is expected to canonize the Rev. Giuseppe Baz, a 17th century missionary, during his January visit to Sri Lanka.

Vaz was born in India in 1651 but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers, who were Calvinists. He is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in the country.

The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis approved the decision by the Vatican's saint-making office to canonize Vaz. The process was the same Francis used to canonize St. John XXIII without a second miracle attributed to his intercession.

Francis has waived Vatican saint-making rules on several occasions and has promised to give Asia more saints.