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Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Korean Martyrs

Today, the Universal Church commemorates Paul Chong Hasang, St Andrew Kim Taegon, and others who gave their lives for the Faith in Korea.
It is interesting to note, in response those suggesting that in light of the dearth of priestly vocations, (that have been answered, at least) in my lifetime, that Truth be abandoned in favor of expediency, that for a century, it was lay Catholics that kept the Church in Korea alive.
Daniel Mitsui of Lion and the Cardinal had a post, (in large part a defense of sacramentals and devotions,) about his ancestors who managed a like feat of spiritual heroism in Japan, when they did not have access to priests, or the Mass, or the Eucharist.
Correction, Mr Mitsui informs me that that none of his ancestors were
among the Japanese Christians who had such trials to undergo.

From Universalis:
For centuries, Korea was closed to all outside influences, and all contact with foreigners was forbidden. No missionaries went there. Nevertheless, a number of laymen sought to find out all that they could about the outside world, through the annual embassy to Peking. Some books about Christianity fell into their hands, and they were converted. Because of the secrecy involved, it is impossible to date the origin of Christianity in Korea with any precision: it may have started in the early 17th century, but the first known baptism is that of Ni-Seoung-Houn, who was baptised under the name of Peter when he visited Peking in 1784.
The first known martyrs are Paul Youn and James Kouen, who in 1791 refused to offer sacrifice on the death of their relatives. Over the next century, over ten thousand Korean Christians were executed, with great cruelty; and many others perished
For most of this period, the church in Korea had no priests and was an entirely lay phenomenon. The first priest, a Frenchman, entered the country in 1836 and was beheaded three years later. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest, secretly trained in Macao, entered Korea in 1845 and was executed in 1846, together with his father. A lay apostle, St Paul Chong Hasang and many others perished at the same time. A further major persecution occurred in 1866.
In all, 103 of the Korean martyrs are celebrated today: they are mostly lay men and women: some married, some not; some old, some young, some even children. The canonisation ceremony was performed in Seoul by Pope John Paul II in 1984.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for your kind mention, but I ought clarify; none of my own Japanese ancestors, to my knowledge, were hidden Christians.

-Daniel Mitsui

Scelata said...

I shall correct the post.
Despite my faulty memory, your post moved me immensely.
By the way, I was delighted to see several long posts on your blog, I hadn't checked in in a long time as I thought you wre taking time off. The one extolling the virtues of the English, in contrast to the metric, system really resonated with me.
Congratulations on your marriage, if I have not already offered them.
I had hoped to be an uninvited guest at the Mass, as it would have been an opportunity to see a wedding such as will never be celebrated at my parish, but I had a Mass I had to play.
Thanks for stopping by my blog, I am honored.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Anonymous said...

I hadn't checked in in a long time as I thought you were taking time off.

I was, but I have returned. Thank you again for your kind words.