was born in 1874 in India, in the village of Vellalan Vilai, Thoothukudi District, now in Tamil Nadu. He was the son of a Christian (Anglican) presbyter, Thomas Vedanayagam, and his wife Ellen. He was educated at Christian missionary schools and at Madras Christian College.
In 1893, at the age of nineteen, he became an evangelist in the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), and was secretary of the YMCA in south India from 1895 to 1909. He already saw the importance of indigenization in the Christian mission, and In 1903 he helped form the Indian Missionary Society (based in Tinnevelly) and in December 1905 he was one of the founders of the National Missionary Society. For many years he served as chairman of the National Christian Council.
In 1909 he left the YMCA, to be ordained to the Anglican presbyterate. He spoke on the need for indigenisation, at the 1910 World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh; and in December 1912 he was himself ordained as the first bishop of the Anglican diocese of Dornakal in Andhra Pradesh - the first Indian Anglican bishop in India. As bishop he ordained many Indians to the presbyterate, and in 1936 he consecrated the new cathedral of the Epiphany in Dornakal, built in Indian architectural style.
Azariah saw that the mission of the Church should be an expression of its unity, and he took a leading role in negotiations for Church reunion in India. These resulted in the inauguration of the Church of South India in 1947, two years after his death.
With Bishop Henry Whitehead Bishop Vedanayagam wrote Christ in the Indian Villages (1930). In 1936 was published his India and the Christian movement. His book, Christian Giving (1954), was translated into several languages. He also wrote articles on Christian mission, such as 'The Necessity of Christian Unity for the missionary enterprise of the world' and 'The Expansion of Christianity'.
Bishop Vedanayagam died on 1 January 1945.
Propers for Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah - 2 January - Evangelist, Missionary and Bishop.
Almighty and Everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of India. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Lesson - Acts 1:1-9
The Holy Gospel - St. Luke 10:1-9