Church official says Pope Francis may declare Sri Lanka's 1st saint during visit next year

The Colombo archbishop says Pope Francis may make a 17th century priest Sri Lanka's first Roman Catholic saint during a papal visit next year.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith announced on Friday that Francis would visit the island nation Jan. 13-15. The archbishop told reporters that he hopes the final approval for the miracle that will clear the way for the sainthood of Blessed Joseph Vaz will be completed in time for an open Mass at Colombo's Galle Face Green during which the canonization can be completed.

Vaz was born in Goa, India, in 1651 but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers.

While visiting South Korea last month, Francis promised to give Asia more saints after a young Cambodian complained her country had none.