Saturday, 20 September 2008

Memorial of the Korean Martyrs

Today we celebrate the memory of certain Korean martyrs, namely St. Andrew Kim (priest and martyr) and St. Paul Chong (martyr) and companions (martyrs). Here are some facts regarding Korean martyrs (taken from Wikipedia):
- the Roman Catholic faith came to Korea at the end of the 18th century, by the reading of some Catholic books written in Chinese
- the strong and dynamic Catholic communities were led almost entirely by lay people until the arrival of the first French missionaries in 1836
- the Catholic community suffered major persecutions in the years 1839, 1846 and 1866, producing at least 8,000 known martyrs- most of them were simple lay people, including men and women, married and single, old and young
- on May 6, 1984 Pope John Paul II canonized Andrew Kim Taegon along with 102 other martyrs, including Paul Chong Hasang.
- currently Korea has the 4th largest number of saints in the Catholic world

Here are some facts on today's saints (taken from Catholic Culture):

- Andrew Kim Taegon (1821 - 1846) was the first native Korean priest and a son of Korean converts
- after baptism at the age of 15, traveled 1300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China
- at the age of 21 crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai to be ordained as priest
- was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul (capital of Korea)

- Paul Chong Hasang (1795–1839) was a lay apostle and a married man
- was a servant of a government interpreter- this enabled him in 1825 to travel to Beijing multiple times, where he entreated the bishop of Beijing to send some priests to Korea, and wrote to Pope Gregory XVI via the bishop of Beijing, requesting the establishment of the diocese of Korea, independent from that of Beijing
- was captured, went through a series of torture in which his countenance remained tranquil, was bound to a cross on a cart and cheerfully met his death at the age of 45


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