The Department of Religious Affairs (DRA) will set up a working committee to propose that the monastic Kru Ba Sri Wichai be added to Unesco's eminent personalities list to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth.
DRA director-general Chaiyapon Suk-iam said the government has assigned his department to gather information regarding Kru Ba Sri Wichai's past work at religious institutes in the northern region of Thailand.
Respected figure: A monument honouring Kru Ba Sri Wichai stands at the foot of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai's Muang district.
Mr Chaiyapon said he and his officials recently visited Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces to discuss the idea with public agencies, academics and the monastic council in the North.
Mr Chaiyapon said the monastic figure's most prominent work was mainly temple renovations in the North. However, one criterion listed by Unesco is that the work of the nominated person must benefit international communities.
"We have to conduct more research on Kru Ba Sri Wichai's work in foreign lands. The proposal will be submitted to Unesco in 2026, before the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2028," he said.
Kru Ba Sri Wichai was born in 1878 in Ban Pang, a village in Lamphun's Li district. At age 18, he was ordained as a novice before entering the monkhood three years later. He was known for his strict vegetarian diet, not smoking and drinking, as well as praying alone in forests.
He also led groups of villagers to renovate old temples and pagodas in the North.
After he died in 1939, his relics were separated into seven parts and distributed among the northern provinces as a method of boosting pilgrimages to the region.