Category Archives: Singing Martyrs

Jul 9 – St Mark Ji Tianxiang (1834-1900), Husband, Father, Grandfather, Doctor, Martyr, Opium addict, Intercessor for addicts, patron against despair, patron of the opiate crisis


-Chinese martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion icon, please click on the image for greater detail.

“God doesn’t require us to succeed, He only requires that you try.”
― St Teresa of Calcutta

What do Catholic martyrs do?  They sing!!!


-by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

“St. Mark Ji Tianxiang couldn’t stay sober, but he could keep showing up.

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang was an opium addict. Not only had he been an opium addict. He was an opium addict at the time of his death.

For years, Ji was a respectable Christian, raised in a Christian family in 19th-century China. He was a leader in the Christian community, a well-off doctor who served the poor for free. But he became ill with a violent stomach ailment and treated himself with opium. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but Ji soon became addicted to the drug, an addiction that was considered shameful and gravely scandalous.

As his circumstances deteriorated, Ji continued to fight his addiction. He went frequently to confession, refusing to embrace this affliction that had taken control of him. Unfortunately, the priest to whom he confessed (along with nearly everybody in the 19th century) didn’t understand addiction as a disease. Since Ji kept confessing the same sin, the priest thought, that was evidence that he had no firm purpose of amendment, no desire to do better.

Without resolve to repent, sincere remorse, and resolve to sin no more, confession is invalid, and absolution, required for receiving the Eucharist, is denied.

After a few years, Ji’s confessor told him to stop coming back until he could fulfill the requirements for confession. For some, this might have been an invitation to leave the Church in anger or shame, but for all his fallenness, Ji knew himself to be loved by the Father and by the Church. He knew that the Lord wanted his heart, even if he couldn’t manage to give over his life. He couldn’t stay sober, but he could keep showing up.

And show up he did, for 30 years. For 30 years, he was unable to receive the sacraments. And for 30 years he prayed that he would die a martyr. It seemed to Ji that the only way he could be saved was through a martyr’s crown.

In 1900, when the Boxer Rebels began to turn against foreigners and Christians, Ji got his chance. He was rounded up with dozens of other Christians, including his son, six grandchildren, and two daughters-in-law. Many of those imprisoned with him were likely disgusted by his presence there among them, this man who couldn’t go a day without a hit. Surely he would be the first to deny the Lord.

But while Ji was never able to beat his addiction, he was, in the end, flooded with the grace of final perseverance. No threat could shake him, no torture make him waver. He was determined to follow the Lord Who had never abandoned him.

As Ji and his family were dragged to prison to await their execution, his grandson looked fearfully at him. “Grandpa, where are we going?” he asked. “We’re going home,” came the answer.

Ji begged his captors to kill him last so that none of his family would have to die alone. He stood beside all nine of them as they were beheaded. In the end, he went to his death singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And though he had been away from the sacraments for decades, he is a canonized saint.

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang is a beautiful witness to the grace of God constantly at work in the most hidden ways, to God’s ability to make great saints of the most unlikely among us, and to the grace poured out on those who remain faithful when it seems even the Church herself is driving them away.

On July 9, the feast of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, let’s ask his intercession for all addicts and for all those who are unable to receive the sacraments, that they may have the courage to be faithful to the Church and that they may always grow in their love for and trust in the Lord. St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, pray for us!”

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, Pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, Pray for us.
Mother of Christ, Pray for us.
Mother of the Church, Pray for us.
Mother of Divine Grace, Pray for us.
Mother most pure, Pray for us.
Mother most chaste, Pray for us.
Mother inviolate, Pray for us.
Mother undefiled, Pray for us.
Mother most amiable, Pray for us.
Mother most admirable, Pray for us.
Mother of Good Counsel, Pray for us.
Mother of our Creator, Pray for us.
Mother of our Savior, Pray for us.
Mother of mercy, Pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, Pray for us.
Virgin most venerable, Pray for us.
Virgin most renowned, Pray for us.
Virgin most powerful, Pray for us.
Virgin most merciful, Pray for us.
Virgin most faithful, Pray for us.
Mirror of justice, Pray for us.
Seat of wisdom, Pray for us.
Cause of our joy, Pray for us.
Spiritual vessel, Pray for us.
Vessel of honor, Pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, Pray for us.
Mystical Rose, Pray for us.
Tower of David, Pray for us.
Tower of ivory, Pray for us.
House of gold, Pray for us.
Ark of the Covenant, Pray for us.
Gate of Heaven, Pray for us.
Morning star, Pray for us.
Health of the Sick, Pray for us.
Refuge of sinners, Pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Help of christians, Pray for us.
Queen of angels, Pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs, Pray for us.
Queen of prophets, Pray for us.
Queen of apostles, Pray for us.
Queen of martyrs, Pray for us.
Queen of confessors, Pray for us.
Queen of virgins, Pray for us.
Queen of all saints, Pray for us.
Queen conceived without original sin, Pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven, Pray for us.
Queen of the Holy Rosary, Pray for us.
Queen of families, Pray for us.
Queen of peace, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray- Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy everlasting happiness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen


-by Erik Durant, 2017, 3/4 scale, 42 in high


-by Brian Fraga, contributing editor to Our Sunday Visitor

“The opium pipe rests in the half-open hands of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, who looks up to heaven, as if to plead, “Please, take this away from me.”

“He holds it out in a sort of way like, ‘I don’t want this thing,’” said Erik Durant, a Massachusetts-based artist who designed a striking sculpture of the 19th-century Chinese layman who died as a martyr in 1900.

Durant told Our Sunday Visitor that he created the sculpture a few years ago after a local parish priest reached out to him. Biographical details were scarce.

“Basically all I got was the timeframe when he lived, that he was a known opium user for over 30 years and that because of the drug usage, he never received Communion yet continued to regularly go to church,” Durant said.

Father David Deston, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, saw in St. Mark Ji a symbol of hope for people struggling with drug addiction.

“His story is amazing, just absolutely amazing,” Father Deston said. “It’s one that I think should be out there more.”

St. Anne Church and Shrine

St. Anne Shrine at 818 Middle Street in Fall River, Massachusetts, houses the statue of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang. The main church was closed in May 2015 when a large piece of plaster fell off the wall during a Mass. The church ceased to be a diocesan parish when it closed Nov. 25, 2018. The St. Anne Preservation Society is raising funds to stabilize the building and restore the building as a shrine. The Diocese of Fall River and the St. Anne’s Preservation Society entered into an agreement on July 1, 2019, through which the shrine will be under the care and oversight of the society. The basement shrine reopened July 4. Masses will be celebrated a minimum of twice per year. The shrine is open Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the recitation of the Rosary, Bible study and special programs.

Denied the Eucharist

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang struggled with opium addiction for almost half of his 66 years of life. A committed Catholic, he continually confessed to smoking opium, but the graces of the sacrament were not enough to deliver him from his addiction.

“He was definitely hooked. He was hooked on what was essentially a pure form of heroin for decades,” said Michael Rayes, a Catholic counselor in Phoenix.

St. Mark Ji’s confessor — without the benefit of modern science that has revealed drug addiction to be a disease that changes brain chemistry — eventually withheld absolution because he did not believe that St. Mark Ji had a firm purpose of amendment to stay away from the opium pipe.

For the last 30 years of his life, St. Mark Ji was denied the reception of the Eucharist, but he still grew in holiness.

“He never gave up, even when he couldn’t really have a full sacramental experience,” Rayes said. “I’m sure he made plenty of spiritual communions, and that must have hurt his heart.”

Believing that martyrdom was his only way to heaven, St. Mark Ji prayed for and received the martyr’s crown when he was killed during the anti-Christian persecutions of the Boxer Rebellion.

“Here, you have St. Mark Ji, who stops receiving the Eucharist, and yet he’s still a saint who was growing spiritually,” said Dr. Gregory Bottaro, executive director of the Catholic Psych Institute, a Catholic psychology practice based in Connecticut.

Bottaro told Our Sunday Visitor that St. Mark Ji’s complicated life challenges modern Catholics to think deeper and “outside the box” about the Communion of Saints, life, holiness, the sacraments and the Catholic faith itself.

“It’s stories like his that help to recalibrate our sense of humanity and our relationship with God,” Bottaro said.

Gripped by addiction

The short official biographies indicate that St. Mark Ji Tianxiang was born in 1834 in the apostolic vicariate of Southeastern Zhili, China. He was raised in a Christian family and grew up to become a physician and a respected member of his community.

As a doctor, St. Mark Ji served the poor for free. However, in his mid-30s, he became ill with a serious stomach ailment and treated himself with opium, which was a common pain medicine, but it was but highly addictive.

St. Mark Ji soon was gripped by opium addiction, which in 19th-century China was considered to be shameful and a grave scandal. Similar to how heroin addicts today often are reviled and called junkies, opium addicts then in China were scorned.

Black-and-white photos of Chinese opium addicts from the late 1800s show they were often gaunt, with hollowed-out eyes, sunken cheekbones and the outlines of their rib cages clearly visible through the skin.

“They’re all emaciated and almost skeletal looking,” said Durant, who studied 19th-century photographs of Chinese opium addicts to get an idea of how St. Mark Ji may have looked after 30 years of smoking opium.

“I basically came up with an amalgamation,” Durant said. “I used my knowledge of anatomy and had a model pose for a general gesture. I basically stripped the muscle off that person in order to come up with an image.”

St. Mark Ji prayed for deliverance, but the chains of addiction were never removed from him. Still, he fought it, frequently going to confession. But after a few years, the priest to whom St. Mark Ji confessed told him to stop coming back until he was serious about stopping his sin.

“One of the elements that struck me about his story was his support system did not understand his addiction, and essentially they rejected him,” said Rayes, who chose St. Mark Ji as the patron for his counseling practice, Intercessory Counseling & Wellness in Phoenix.

Today, priest-confessors have the benefit of modern science and psychology when it comes to understanding that drug addiction is a disease. In light of that understanding, Bottaro said the Church is “constantly developing” in its application of eternal truth.

“Obviously, truth doesn’t change, but the depth of understanding matures,” Bottaro said. “And here you have a perfect example where we didn’t have the sort of human understanding of science, from brain science studies and social psychology, of understanding the effect of drugs and understanding what’s happening in the brain.”

Being denied access to the sacraments and shunned by one’s community would arguably be enough to discourage most people from wanting to be involved with the Church. But St. Mark Ji remained a practicing Catholic, even if he could not beat his addiction.

“The Church, his confessors, didn’t understand the nature of addiction, and yet he persevered in his faith,” Rayes said. “So that, I think, is a really strong example for those today who are struggling with addiction, because you can feel so alone.”

“He did what he thought was the right thing to do,” Father Deston added. “He struggled to live a good life. He attended Mass regularly. He never stopped believing in God’s mercy. I think his martyrdom just grew out of his own faith. It wasn’t a means to an end for him.”

Martyrdom

Between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty, the Boxer Rebellion broke out in China as Chinese nationalists cracked down against foreigners and Christians. During the two-year uprising, more than 32,000 Chinese Christians and 200 foreign missionaries were massacred.

In 1900, the Boxers arrested St. Mark Ji, rounding him up with dozens of other Christians, including his son, six grandchildren and two daughters-in-law. At trial, St. Mark Ji was given the opportunity to apostatize, but he refused.

He was led to his execution with the other members of his family on July 7, 1900. He begged his captors to kill him last so that none of his relatives would die alone. As he awaited his own death, he sang the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“When we have this story of St. Mark, it’s so out there that that’s it’s almost impossible to tidy it up and make it neat and pretty for a little prayer card,” Bottaro said. “His story is so central on the messiness of his life that you can’t avoid that aspect of it.”

Sainthood

Pope Pius XII beatified St. Mark Ji along with 120 other Chinese martyrs on Nov. 24, 1946. St. Pope John Paul II canonized him on Oct. 1, 2000. His feast day is July 9.

In more recent years, St. Mark Ji’s life story has resonated with many who have been affected by the national opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people in the United States die each day after overdosing on opioids.

For many today who suffer from drug addiction, and people who see their loved ones struggling with the disease, St. Mark Ji has become a patron.

“People would leave notes by his statue. Occasionally, I would straighten them up and read them. Many of them were just heartbreaking, where people were talking about their own struggles or asking for prayers for their loved ones,” said Father Deston, who had the statue of St. Mark Ji placed in his former parish’s basement shrine.

Durant said a priest in Pittsburgh called him and asked for a copy of the sculpture. Employees from an addiction center in New Hampshire traveled to St. Anne Shrine in Fall River, Massachusetts, to see the statue.

“I think he’s a fascinating and important character,” Durant said.

“Drug addiction, then or now, is one of the issues of our time,” Durant said. “It’s so big, affecting so many people. It affects all ages, races, socioeconomic status. It affects all of us. It’s important, whether you’re Catholic or not.”

I am a member of Al-anon, attending weekly meetings for over a year now, when not pandemic bound.  The Catholic Church views substance abuse as a sin, even though a disease of the mind and body. There are many kinds of addictions. They are in conflict with the freedom of God’s children, the gift of life and the goodness of life, all created from and by the goodness of God Himself. Addicts today are not excluded from the sacraments because they are addicts. However, a sincere Act of Contrition, immediately, and the sacrament of reconciliation should be sought quickly, to remain as much in the state of grace as possible considering mortality.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -1 Cor 12:7-10


-please click on the image for greater detail

St Mark Li Tianxiang is called the ‘trier’ because he never gave up trying to overcome his addiction and be able to receive the sacraments again.

Nonetheless, Mark always attended Mass and lived a truly committed and devout Catholic life. It is said that he helped the sick and dying free of charge or only ever accepted what his patients were able to give him for his service.

St Mark Li Tianxiang, pray for us!!! Intercede with God on our behalf for whatever obstacles prevent us from being good servants of the Lord, particularly those sins to which we are truly addicted (pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth, substance abuse, timidity, tepidity, lukewarmness in Your service, fear, etc.) or cannot rid ourselves of through His most generous and powerful grace; such is our too, too strong attachment to our sins. Jesus, help us!!! Jesus, save us!!!

Love, & His healing,
Matthew

Feb 6 – Twenty-six crosses on a hill & “Silence”, the movie: love is stronger than death, 日本二十六聖人, Nihon Nijūroku Seijin


-1628 engraving, please click on the image for greater detail


-monument to the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki, 1962, please click on the image for greater detail

With the Oscars last night, will Hollywood ever tell this story, instead of apostasy? I doubt it. One of the reasons I started this blog, to, in my own small way, tell the brilliance of saints. When Christian missionaries returned to Japan 250 years later, they found a community of “hidden Catholics” that had survived underground.

Jn 11:25


-by Matthew E. Bunson

“A group of twenty-six Christians gave their lives for Christ on a hill near Nagasaki, Japan, on February 5, 1597. They are noteworthy not only for the zeal they showed as they died as martyrs, but for the model they provided to Japanese Christians for centuries to come. Their story reminds us that heroic examples of the Catholic faith transcend country and race.

Jesuit Beginnings

The Catholic faith was introduced into Japan on August 15, 1549 by the great Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier, SJ, who landed on the Japanese island of Kyushu with two fellow Jesuits, Cosme de Torres, SJ, and John Fernandez, SJ. Francis soon learned of the prevailing political situation. Despite the emperor’s traditionally accepted divine origins, he had little authority; instead the local lords (daimyo) exercised extensive powers. Francis concentrated on winning the confidence of the daimyo in the area, and on September 29, he visited Shimazu Takahisa, the daimyo of Kagoshima, and asked for permission to build the first Catholic mission in Japan. The daimyo readily agreed to his request, believing that such a church might help to establish a trade relationship with Europe.

Francis mastered Japanese, then took his preaching into the neighboring island of Honshu, the main island in the Japanese archipelago. Within six years, six hundred Japanese converted to the faith in one province alone. But the rapid growth of the new faith soon provoked a sharp reaction. In 1561, the daimyo of several provinces launched a persecution that compelled Christians to abjure their faith.

Surprisingly, the Shogunate of Japan initially gave its support to the enterprise of evangelization. Primarily the shoguns believed the new religion might curb the influence of the sometimes-troublesome Buddhist monks in the islands, but they also thought it would facilitate trade with the outside world. Nevertheless, the Japanese officials were suspicious of the long-term intentions of the representatives of Spain and Portugal, most so because they were aware of the expanding Spanish Empire in Asia and the Pacific.

The labors of Francis Xavier were carried on and furthered by the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, who arrived in 1579. This remarkable missionary opened a school to teach new mission workers, established seminaries, and promoted vocations for the Jesuits among the inhabitants. By around 1580, eighty missionaries were caring for more than one hundred fifty-thousand Christians, including the daimyo Arima Harunobu.

In Rome, Pope Gregory XIII declared his immense satisfaction with the work of the Jesuits and issued the decreed Ex Pastorale Officio in 1585. He declared that the Japanese missions were the exclusive territory of the Society of Jesus. Two years later, the first diocese was created at Funai (modern Oita).


-St Francisco Blanco OFM, Lima, Peru, please click on the image for greater detail”

Change in Politics

Several events soon transpired that changed the tolerant atmosphere. First, assorted Catholic missionaries who lacked the subtlety of the Jesuits arrived in Japan and failed to respect Pope Gregory’s decree. Their aggressive manner offended many Japanese, especially those who feared that Christianity was merely a prelude to invasion by the European powers. Thus, by 1587, when there were over 200,000 Christians in Japan, an initial edict of persecution was instituted by the country’s regent, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Nearly 150 churches were destroyed and missionaries were condemned to exile from the islands. The missionaries declined to leave and found safe haven in various parts of Japan. As a result of the persecution, within a decade the number of Christians had increased by 100,000.

The second major turning point occurred on August 26, 1596, when the San Felipe, a Spanish trade ship traveling from Manila to North America, ran aground off the coast of Shikoku, the southeastern island of Japan. Angered by the violation of Japanese territory, Hideyoshi ordered that the cargo be confiscated, and among the items seized were several cannons. The discovery alarmed Japanese officials, and the ship’s pilot made matters worse. Furious over the loss of his cargo, he threatened the Japanese with military action by Spain, an invasion, he claimed, that would be assisted by the Christian missionaries in the country.

The threats were complete fabrications, of course, but Hideyoshi used the occasion to seize the ship and then to launch the first major anti-Christian persecution in the history of Japan. In 1597, the same year as the arrival of the first bishop, Pierre Martinez, S.J., the government launched its pogrom. The Christian religion was banned, and those who refused to abjure the faith were to be condemned to death.

The initial public execution took place at Nagasaki, a city that had become the center of the Christian faith in Japan. The first martyrs were Paul Miki and his companions.


-drawing remembering 26 Catholic martyrs of Nagasaki, please click on the image for greater detail

Marked for Death

Born around 1564, Paul Miki was the son of a Japanese soldier, Miki Handayu. He was educated by the Jesuits and joined the Society of Jesus in 1580, the first Japanese to enter any religious order. Paul swiftly earned a reputation for the eloquence of his preaching. He was on the verge of ordination when he was arrested and thrown together with twenty-four other Catholics condemned to die in the name of the emperor. With Paul were six European Franciscan missionaries, two other Japanese Jesuits and sixteen Japanese laymen. The laymen included Cosmas Takeya, a sword maker; Paul Ibaraki, a member of a distinguished samurai family; and his brother Leo Karasumaru, who had been a Buddhist monk. Also arrested were Louis Ibaraki, twelve, a nephew of Paul Ibaraki and Leo Karasumaru; and thirteen-year-old Anthony of Nagasaki.

The martyrs were assembled at Kyoto, condemned to die, and then ordered to be taken to Nagasaki for their execution. As was customary, the prisoners had their left ears cut off prior to setting out so that they would be marked as condemned. The march to Nagasaki lasted a month. Along the way the men suffered the tortures of their captors and the jibes of crowds, but they also won the respect of many onlookers as they marched, bleeding and exhausted but still praying and singing. One Japanese Christian layman named Francis—a carpenter from Kyoto—decided to follow the martyrs as they progressed until he was arrested himself and expressed his joy at being included among them.

After the grueling trek from Kyoto, the condemned arrived at last at the place of their martyrdom, the city of Nagasaki. At ten in the morning on February 5, they were led along the highway from Tokitsu to Omura, and then commanded to stop at a small cluster of hills at the base of Mount Kompira. At the lowest of these hills, called Nishizaka, common criminals were put to death, and the lingering smell of rotting corpses could be detected. All was in readiness: Twenty-six crosses awaited the Christians.

Seeing the horrendous surroundings, several Portuguese merchants went to the brother of the governor, Terazawa Hazaburo, and asked him to intervene and at least have the place of execution moved. The governor, Ierazawa Hazaburo, was willing to listen to their plea, especially as his brother was a friend of Paul Miki. As it happened, across the road from the hill of Nishizaka was a lovely field of wheat, and the governor decreed that the executions could be carried out there.


-crucifixion of the martyrs of Nagasaki. A painting in the Franciscan convent of the Lady of the Snows in Prague, please click on the image for greater detail.

Calm amid Horror

At the wheat field, the martyrs were divided by the soldiers into three groups, each one headed by a Franciscan reciting the rosary. Each of the martyrs had his own cross, the wood cut to his height. Gonzalo Garcia, the forty-year-old Franciscan lay brother from India, was the first to be led to his cross. He was shown the instrument of his imminent death, and he knelt to kiss it. Today, he is venerated as the patron saint of Mumbai. Following his example, the martyrs one by one embraced the wooden crosses before them.

Unlike the Romans, the Japanese officials did not use nails. Instead, they fixed the martyrs to their crosses by iron rings around the neck, hands, and feet and ropes tightly binding the waist. The one exception was the Spanish Franciscan priest, Peter Bautista, Superior of the Franciscan Mission in Japan. This former ambassador from Spain (who had devoted his ministry for some years to lepers) stretched out his hands and instructed the executioners to use nails. Paul Miki, meanwhile, proved shorter than his cross had been measured. As his feet did not reach the lower rings, the executioners tied him down at the chest with rope and linens.

With their victims affixed, the soldiers and executioners simultaneously lifted the crosses. As history has demonstrated many times before and after, the crowd that had gathered for amusement at the expense of the dying fell silent as the large crosses thudded into the holes in the earth and the martyrs exhaled in agony from the jarring drop. On the hill with them were four thousand Catholics from Nagasaki. Young Anthony looked down and beheld his family at the front of the crowd, and he spoke words of hope to them.

Then, just as each had embraced his cross, the martyrs one by one began to sing hymns of praise, the Te Deum and the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. The victims struggled to sing and to raise their voices to God one last time. From his cross, Paul Miki also preached for the last time. Seeing the edict of death hanging from one soldier’s long, curved spear for all to see, he responded to the charge, his voice carrying across the hills:

I did not come from the Philippines. I am a Japanese by birth, and a brother of the Society of Jesus. I have committed no crime, and the only reason why I am put to death is that I have been teaching the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am very happy to die for such a cause, and see my death as a great blessing from the Lord. At this critical time, when you can rest assured that I will not try to deceive you, I want to stress and make it unmistakably clear that man can find no way to salvation other than the Christian way. (Luis Frois, Martyrs’ Records)

And then the martyrs began their final minutes. The first to die was the Mexican Franciscan Brother Philip de Jesus, who had also been measured incorrectly, so his entire weight was placed on the ring around his neck. He slowly choked to death, until the order was given for two soldiers to pierce his chest on either side with their spears. The soldiers, in pairs, thrust their spears into each side of the remaining victims until the blades literally crossed each other. Death was virtually instantaneous. The martyrs accepted their end with the same prayerful calm that marked their ascent upon the crosses. The gathered crowd, however, cried out in anguish, and the din could be heard in the city of Nagasaki below. Many Japanese who watched the horror unfold became Christians themselves in the coming weeks and months. For the soldiers, the scene proved too much, and many began to weep at the courage of the dead Christians, especially young Louis Ibaraki who cried out, “Jesus . . . Mary” with his last breath.

With the execution over, the Christians in the crowd surged forward to soak up the blood of the martyrs in cloths and to remove small pieces of clothing to preserve as relics. Driven away forcibly by the guards, the crowds slowly dispersed, turning back to see the last rays of the sun framing the twenty-six crosses in stark relief.


-Catholic martyrs of Nagasaki, please click on the image for greater detail

Love is Stronger than Death

After dark, more people gathered. Christians from Nagasaki arrived to pray for the martyrs. In the days following, thousands more made a pilgrimage to the site. Peasants, local daimyo, soldiers, and foreigners stopped at the hill and remained there transfixed in prayer or amazement until the guards forced them away. Word spread across Japan, and the example of the twenty-six martyrs became the rallying cry for Christians.

The people of Nagasaki christened Nishizaka the “Martyrs’ Hill.” The next year, an ambassador from the Philippines was given permission by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to gather up the remains and the crosses. Pilgrims continued to visit the site, and the best efforts of officials could not stop new visits, both public and clandestine.

Paul Miki and his Companions proved the first of many thousands of martyrs in the church of Japan. Sporadic persecutions were conducted over subsequent years, erupting in 1613 under the sharp campaign of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), who considered Christianity to be detrimental to the good of Japan and the social order he was instituting. The next year, all missionaries were expelled and Japanese converts were commanded to abjure the faith. Long-simmering resentment against the persecutions culminated in a Christian uprising in 1637. This was mercilessly put down, and the once-flourishing Church in Japan seemed dead. Foreigners were forbidden to enter the country on pain of death.

The Church outside of Japan did not forget Paul Miki and his companions. The Twenty-Six Martyrs were beatified on September 15, 1627 under Pope Urban VIII, and they were canonized in 1862 by Pope Blessed Pius IX, making them the first canonized martyrs of the Far East. But then came a truly astonishing turn of events. In 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States arrived in Japan, and for the first time in two centuries, the country established official contact with the outside world. To the utter shock of Westerners, the Japanese Christians had not abandoned the faith despite brutal persecution. For two centuries, they had practiced the faith in secret. In 1865, priests from the Foreign Missions discovered twenty thousand Christians on the island of Kyushu alone. Religious liberty was at last granted in 1873 by the imperial government. What had sustained these Christians in the long dark years was their trust in Christ and the examples of those who had died for the faith. Foremost in their memory were the Twenty-Six Martyrs upon Nishizaka Hill.

Today, the site of the Twenty-Six Martyrs remains a beloved place of pilgrimage, and they are honored by the Monument of the 26 Martyrs erected in 1962, as well as a shrine and a museum. Thousands of visitors arrive every year. One of them, in 1981, was Pope John Paul II. He declared during his visit:

“On Nishizaka, on February 5, 1597, twenty-six martyrs testified to the power of the Cross; they were the first of a rich harvest of martyrs, for many more would subsequently hallow this ground with their suffering and death. . . . Today, I come to the Martyrs’ Hill to bear witness to the primacy of love in the world. In this holy place, people of all walks of life gave proof that love is stronger than death.

Foreign Franciscan missionaries – Alcantarines

Saint Martin of the Ascension
Saint Pedro Bautista
Saint Philip of Jesus
Saint Francisco Blanco
Saint Francisco of Saint Michael
Saint Gundisalvus (Gonsalvo) Garcia

Japanese Franciscan tertiaries

Saint Antony Dainan
Saint Bonaventure of Miyako
Saint Cosmas Takeya
Saint Francisco of Nagasaki
Saint Francis Kichi
Saint Gabriel de Duisco
Saint Joachim Sakakibara
Saint John Kisaka
Saint Leo Karasumaru
Saint Louis Ibaraki
Saint Matthias of Miyako
Saint Michael Kozaki
Saint Paul Ibaraki
Saint Paul Suzuki
Saint Pedro Sukejiroo
Saint Thomas Kozaki
Saint Thomas Xico

Japanese Jesuits

Saint James Kisai
Saint John Soan de Goto
Saint Paul Miki

O God our Father, source of strength to all your saints, Who brought the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith we profess, even to death itself; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Love of Him,
Matthew

Sep 24 – St. Gerard of Csanád, OSB, (980-1046 AD) Bishop & Martyr – a spiked barrel & JOY!!!!!


-by Br Louis Bethea, OP

“Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the joyous martyr, St. Gerard of Csanád. The Legenda Minor S. Gerardi (ca. 1080) records that he was born around 970. He was a Benedictine monk who was made bishop of Marosvár (later named Csanád) in the Kingdom of Hungary. The region contained many Greek Orthodox inhabitants alongside numerous pagan communities in what was then a part of Hungary’s “wild west.” In addition to Gerard’s success at catechesis and exegesis, he converted many of the local pagans with gentleness and zeal. When the King of Hungary, St. Stephen, died in 1038, a period of political chaos ensued, and it was in this turmoil that St. Gerard was martyred. Several accounts of his martyrdom describe him, buoyed by the grace of God, rolling down a hill in a spiked barrel. Found still alive at the bottom of the hill, he was bludgeoned to death. Throughout this episode, and others in his life, various sources pay attention to Gerard’s joy, rooted in his deep love for Jesus Christ.

When we think of joy, perhaps images of victorious sports teams or holding a newborn baby come to mind. The Christian perspective goes deeper. Reflecting on its essence, Pope St. Paul VI taught that joy is “the spiritual sharing in the unfathomable joy […] which is in the heart of Jesus Christ glorified” (Gaudete in Domino 2). Drawing from St. Thomas Aquinas, Paul VI clarifies that joy is happiness “in the strict sense, when man, on the level of his higher faculties, finds his peace and satisfaction in the possession of a known and loved good” (see ST I-II, q. 31, a. 3). There is a distinction between the lower forms of happiness and joy in that “joy, which is about God, is caused by charity” (ST II-II, q. 28, a. 4). To the degree that our happiness is rooted in earthly things or in our love of God helps us differentiate between happiness and true, spiritual joy, respectively.

Drawing from the lives of the saints, perhaps the clearest expression of joy is given to us in the gospel, when Elizabeth felt John the Baptist “leap for joy” at the approach of Jesus in the Blessed Mother’s womb (Lk 1:44). The presence of God, even in the womb of his mother, was enough to send the baby John into a fit of joy! Saint Felicity, on her way to the arena for her execution, was in such a state of joy that she walked with “shining steps as the true wife of Christ, the darling of God” (The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity). We too, when we unite our gladness and anguish to Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection, can exude joy in responding to the love of God as his treasured sons and daughters. In so doing, we become magnetic Christians on account of our joyful tranquility, which in turn draws others to Christ.

As Catholics, we are called to witness to the “joy that we have in the celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord” (Guadete in Domino 3). Joy, as that ultimate state of happiness described by Pope St. Paul VI, reflects the love that we are granted from the Father. The grace that God provided St. Gerard allowed him to endure his martyrdom and become God’s instrument for the conversion of the Magyar pagans, who eventually would embrace the faith. May the Holy Spirit also grant us the gift of joy as we persevere in the Christian life. Saint Gerard of Csanád, pray for us!”

O God, Who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Gerard with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The sign of a Christian is JOY amongst our crosses. Not fake smiles, but because of our deep contemplative relationship with Him, all is JOY!!!!

Love,
Matthew

Jun 26 – Sts Marie-Madeleine Fontaine, DC, Marie-Francoise Lanel, DC, Therese Fantou, DC, Jeanne Gerard, DC, from the House of Charity in Arras, (d. 1794), Religious & Martyrs

The House of Charity in Arras was a beehive of activity. Seven Sisters cared for the sick, visited poor families and educated young children. The service was very well appreciated by the population.

Like everywhere, the Revolution questioned each one’s fidelity to Jesus Christ and to the Church. Quickly, Sister Coutacheaux decided to return to her family. The superior was worried about the two youngest Sisters. What fate did the revolutionaries have for them? She invited them to find refuge in Belgium. Sister Rose Michau and Sister Jeanne Fabre did not want to leave, but once the Terror came to Arras they followed the advice and went into exile. They rejoined the Company of the Daughters of Charity when it was reestablished. At the end of 1793 there were four Sisters, then, who remained working in the House of Charity.

Sister Marie Madeleine Fontaine, originally from Etrapigny (Eure), entered the Company in 1748 at the age of 25. As Superior of the community, her wisdom and competence were greatly appreciated. Sister Marie Françoise Lanel was born in 1745 in Eu (Seine Maritime). She entered the Daughters of Charity at the age of 19. Sister Thérèse Fantou was born in Miniac Morvan (Ille et Vilaine) in 1747. She became a Daughter of Charity at the age of 24. Sister Jeanne Gérardest was born in Cumières (Meuse) in 1752 and entered the Company of the Daughters of Charity in 1776.

The arrival in Arras of a new District leader, Joseph Lebon, brought a climate of violence and fear to the city. The House of Charity became the “House of Humanity” for which a new director was installed who surveyed the activities of the Sisters. The humiliations intensified and the false testimonies multiplied. On February 14 1794 the Sisters were arrested and taken to Saint-Vaast Abbey. The Sisters brought compassion to the prisoners who were distraught about their future. The Sisters underwent their first interrogation on the 4th of April. They again refused to take the oath, intended to subjugate the Catholic Church in France to the new French Government instead of the Pope, since it was against their conscience.

Then, suddenly, on the night of June 25, the order was given to quickly transfer these four Sisters of Charity to Cambrai. The cart left at one in the morning and arrived in Cambrai at eight thirty. The Sisters were locked in the chapel of the old Seminary. In this place of prayer they meditated.

Then came a new court appearance and immediate condemnation to death. Waiting for the cart to take them to the guillotine the Sisters prayed their chapelet. The guards took their “good luck charms,” and, not knowing what to do, put them on their heads like a crown. Thus it was that they went through the city, singing the Ave Maris Stella. (What do Catholic martyrs do? THEY SING!!!) At the foot of the scaffold Sister Marie-Madeleine Fontaine repeated the prediction already made to those condemned, “We are the last victims.” That extraordinary prediction came true. The fall of Robespierre on July 27 1794 marked the end of the Revolution of Terror.


-the four martyr saints holding the palms of victory in Heaven, Rev 7:9-17

Since the North Star guides sailors home to safe port, Mary is the Star of the Sea. She guides us safe home to Jesus.

Ave Maris Stella, 8th century AD

Ave, Maris Stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper virgo,
Felix coeli porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evae nomen.

Solve vincia reis
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse Matrem,
Sumat per te preces
Qui pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum;
Ut videntes Jesum
Semper collaetemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.

Hail Star of the Sea

Hail, thou Star of ocean,
Portal of the sky !
Ever Virgin Mother
Of the Lord most high !

Oh ! by Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Stablish peace below.

Break the captive’s fetters ;
Light on blindness pour ;
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.

Show thyself a Mother ;
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us Incarnate
Did not thee despise.

Virgin of all virgins !
To thy shelter take us :
Gentlest of the gentle !
Chaste and gentle make us.

Still, as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor ;
Till with thee and Jesus
We rejoice forever.

Through the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen.

The parish just over where I grew up near the seashore was named Maris Stella.

Love,
Matthew

Feb 1 – Bl Guillame’ Repin, (1709-1794), Priest, & 98 Companions, Martyrs of Angers

Angers 013, Poland, Chelmno
-arrested Daughters of Charity, Srs Odile Baumgarten, DC & Marie-Anne Vaillot, DC

“First, there are the many martyrs who, in the Diocese of Angers , in the time of the French Revolution, accepted death because they wanted to, in the words of William Repin, “keep their faith and religion “firmly attached to the Roman Catholic Church; priests, they refused to take an oath considered schismatic, they would not abandon their pastoral care; laity, they remained faithful to the priests at the Mass celebrated by them, the signs of their worship to Mary and the saints.

Undoubtedly, in a context of great ideological tensions, political and military, one could pose to them infidelity suspicions to the homeland, we have them, in the “whereas” of sentences, accused of compromising with “the forces anti-revolutionary “; it is also well in almost all the persecutions, yesterday and today. But for the men and women whose names were chosen – among many others probably also deserving – they answered the interrogations of the courts, leaves no doubt about their determination to remain faithful – risking their lives – that their faith required, nor the profound reason for their condemnation, hatred of the faith that their judges despised as “unsustainable devotion” and “fanaticism.”

We remain in awe of the decisive answers, calm, brief, frank, humble, that have nothing provocative, but are clear and firm on the essential: the fidelity to the Church. So say the priests, all guillotined as their venerable dean William Repin, the nuns who refuse to even suggest they were sworn in, the four laymen: simply quote the testimony of one of them (Antoine Fournier): “so you should suffer the death in defense of your religion? ” – ” Yes “. Thus speak these eighty women, which cannot be accused of armed rebellion! Some had previously expressed a desire to die for the name of Jesus rather than renounce the religion (Renée Feillatreau).  (Fifteen, who could afford it by confiscation of their goods, were guillotined.  The eighty-four others were shot and dumped in mass graves.)

True Christians, they also evidenced by their refusal to hate their tormentors, for their pardon their desire for peace for all: “I have asked the Good Lord for the peace and unity of all” (Marie Cassin) . Finally, their last moments show the depth of their faith. Some sing hymns and psalms to the place of execution; “They ask few minutes to make to God the sacrifice of their lives, they did so fervently that their torturers themselves were astonished.” Sister Marie-Anne, Daughter of Charity, comforts and his sister, “We’ll have the joy of seeing God and possessing Him for all eternity … and we will be owned without fear of being separated” (testimony of Abbot Gruget).

Today these ninety-nine martyrs of Angers are associated, in the glory of beatification, the first of them, Father Noel Pinot beatified for almost 60 years.”
-Homily of Pope John Paul II, 19 Feb 1984, Mass of Beatification

noel-pinot

noel_pinot2

noel_pinot3

Blessed Noel Pinot, priest & martyr (feast February 21), Noel was born at Angers in 1747. He became a priest and excelled in ministering to the sick. In 1788, he was made pastor at a parish in Louroux Beconnais, which he revitalized spiritually through his piety and preaching.

Father Noel refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new French Republic which denied the authority of the Church, and was sentenced to be deprived of his parish for two years. Nonetheless, he continued to carry out his ministry in secret. Later, the holy priest even took clandestine possession of his parish and continued his pastoral work, managing to avoid capture for his defiance of the Revolutionary edict.

However, one day while fully vested for Mass, Father Noel was captured and dragged through the streets to the jeers of hostile spectators and soldiers. He remained in jail for twelve days and was given the death sentence for refusing to take the oath. The holy priest went to the guillotine still vested for Mass and uttering the words that began the pre-Vatican II Mass: “I will go to the altar of God, to God Who gives joy to my youth.” He joined his sacrifice to that of his Master on February 21, 1794, and was beatified in 1926.

Blessed Renee-Marie Feillatreau was born in Angers, France, in 1751. A wife and mother, she was accused of being involved with Catholic “brigands,” of encouraging non-conformist priests, robbing the Republic by hiding sacred vestments and vessels, and of shouting, “Long live religion! Long live the King!” Her guilt actually lay in her devotion to her Catholic faith.

Renee-Marie declared before her judges that she would rather die than renounce her faith, and that she did indeed visit and protect priests of the Roman Catholic Church and had attended their Masses.

Blessed Renee-Marie Feillatreau was guillotined on March 28, 1794, and beatified in 1984.

Angers 005

Names of the beati by canonical state:

Guillaume Répin (1709-1794), Priest

Priests (11).
1. Laurent Bâtard
2. François-Louis Chartier
3. André Fardeau
4. Jacques Laigneau de Langellerie
5. Jean-Michel Langevin
6. Jacques Ledoyen
7. Jean-Baptiste Lego
8. René Lego
9. Joseph Moreau
10. François Peltier
11. Pierre Tessier

Religious (3).
12. Odile Baumgarten
13. Rosalie du Verdier de la Sorinière
14. Marie-Anne Vaillot

Laymen (4).
15. Pierre Delépine
16. Antoine Fournier
17. Pierre Frémond
18. Jean Ménard

Laywomen (80).
19. Gabrielle Androuin
20. Perrine Androuin
21. Suzanne Androuin
22. Victoire Bauduceau Réveillère
23. Françoise Bellanger
24. Louise Bessay de la Voûte
25. Perrine Besson
26. Madeleine Blond
27. Françoise Bonneau
28. Renée Bourgeais Juret
29. Jeanne Bourigault
30. Perrine Bourigault
31. Madeleine Cady
32. Renée Cailleau Girault
33. Marie Cassin
34. Marie-Jeanne Chauvigné Rorteau
35. Simone Chauvigné Charbonneau
36. Catherine Cottenceau
37. Carole Davy
38. Louise-Aimée Dean de Luigné
39. Marie de la Dive du Verdier
40. Anne-Françoise de Villeneuve
41. Catherine du Verdier de la Sorinière
42. Marie-Louise du Verdier de la Sorinière
43. Marie Fasseuse
44. Renée-Marie Feillatreau
45. Marie Forestier
46. Jeanne Fouchard Chalonneau
47. Marie Gallard Queson
48. Marie Gasnier Mercier
49. Marie Gingueneau Couffard
50. Jeanne Gourdon Moreau
51. Marie Grillard
52. Renée Grillard
53. Perrine Grille
54. Jeanne Gruget Doly
55. Victoire Gusteau
56. Marie-Anne Hacher du Bois
57. Anne Hmard
58. Marie Lardeux
59. Perrine Laurent
60. Perrine Ledoyen
61. Jeanne-Marie Leduc Paquier
62. Marie Lenée Lepage Varancé
63. Marie Leroy Brevet
64. Marie Leroy
65. Carola Lucas
66. Renée Martin
67. Anne Maugrain
68. Françoise Michau
69. Françoise Micheneau Gillot
70. Jacqueline Monnier
71. Jeanne Onillon
72. Françoise Pagis Roulleau
73. Madeleine Perrotin Rousseau
74. Perrine Phélyppeaux Sailland
75. Marie Pichery Delahaye
76. Monique Pichery
77. Marie Piou Supiot
78. Louise Poirier Barré
79. Perrine-Renée Potier Turpault
80. Marie-Geneviève Poulain de la Forestrie
81. Marthe Poulain de la Forestrie
82. Félicité Pricet
83. Rose Quenion
84. Louise Rallier de la Tertinière Dean de Luigné
85. Renée Regault Papin
86. Marguerite Rivière Huau
87. Marguerite Robin
88. Marie Rochard
89. Marie Roger Chartier
90. Marie Roualt Bouju
91. Jeanne-Marie Sailland d’Epinatz
92. Madeleine Sailland d’Epinatz
93. Perrine-Jeanne Sailland d’Epinatz
94. Madeleine Sallé
95. Renée Seichet Dacy
96. Françoise Suhard Ménard
97. Jeanne Thomas Delaunay
98. Renée Valin

Angers 006

Names of beati by date of execution:

30 October 1793 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

1. JEAN-MICHEL LANGEVIN
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 28 September 1731 in Ingrandes, Maine-et-Loire (France)

01 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

2. RENÉ LEGO
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 05 October 1764 in La Flèche, Sarthe (France)
3. JEAN LEGO
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 13 May 1766 in La Flèche, Sarthe (France)

02 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

4. GUILLAUME REPIN
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 26 August 1709 in Thouarcé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
5. LAURENT BATARD
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 04 February 1744 in Saint-Maurille de Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)

05 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

6. JACQUES LEDOYEN
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 April 1760 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
7. FRANÇOIS PELTIER
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 26 April 1728 in Savennières, Maine-et-Loire (France)
8. PIERRE TESSIER
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 11 May 1766 in La Trinité-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

12 January 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

9. ANTOINE FOURNIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 January 1736 in La Poitevinière, Maine-et-Loire (France)

18 January 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

10. VICTOIRE GUSTEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1745 in Châtillon-sur-Sèvre, Deux-Sèvres (France)
11. CHARLOTTE LUCAS
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 01 April 1752 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
12. MONIQUE PICHERY
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 04 April 1762 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
13. FÉLICITÉ PRICET
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1745 in Châtillon-sur-Sèvre, Maine-et-Loire (France)

26 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

14. MARIE DE LA DIVE veuve DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 18 May 1723 in Saint-Crespin-sur-Moine, Maine-et-Loire (France)

27 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

15. ROSALIE DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE [SŒUR SAINT CELESTE]
professed religious, Benedictine Nuns of Our Lady of Calvary (n.o.)
born: 12 August 1745 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

01 February 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

16. MARIE-ANNE VAILLOT
vowed member, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
born: 13 May 1736 in Fontainebleau, Maine-et-Loire (France)
17. ODILE BAUMGARTEN
vowed member, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
born: 15 November 1750 in Gondrexange, Moselle (France)
18. GABRIELLE ANDROUIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 September 1755 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
19. PERRINE ANDROUIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 31 August 1760 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
20. SUZANNE ANDROUIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 March 1757 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
21. VICTOIRE BAUDUCEAU épouse RÉVÉLIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 20 September 1745 in Thouars, Deux-Sèvres (France)
22. FRANÇOISE BELLANGER
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 June 1735 in La Trinité-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
23. PERRINE BESSON
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1742 in Essarts, Vendée (France)
24. MADELEINE BLOND
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1763 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
25. FRANÇOISE BONNEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1763 in Saint-Léger-en-Anjou (a.k.a. Saint-Léger-sous-Cholet), Maine-et-Loire (France)
26. JEANNE BOURIGAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 October 1757 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
27. RENÉE CAILLEAU épouse GIRAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 06 July 1752 in Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
28. MARIE CASSIN épouse MOREAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 21 January 1750 in Chanteloup, Maine-et-Loire (France)
29. SIMONE CHAUVIGNÉ veuve CHARBONNEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 12 March 1728 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
30. MARIE-JEANNE CHAUVIGNÉ épouse RORTEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 21 February 1755 in La Jumellière, Maine-et-Loire (France)
31. CATHERINE COTTANCEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1733 in Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres (France)
32. CHARLOTTE DAVY
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 October 1760 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
33. LOUISE DÉAN DE LUIGNÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 17 November 1757 in Argeton-Notre-Dame, Mayenne (France)
34. ANNE-FRANÇOISE DE VILLENEUVE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 11 September 1741 in Seiches-sur-le-Loir, Maine-et-Loire (France)
35. MARIE FAUSSEUSE épouse BANCHEREAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1740 in Boësse, Deux-Sèvres (France)
36. JEANNE FOUCHARD épouse CHALONNEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 10 September 1747 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
37. MARIE GALLARD épouse QUESSON
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1739 in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Plaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
38. MARIE GASNIER épouse MERCIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 November 1756 in Ménil, Mayenne (France)
39. MARIE GRILLARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 05 October 1753 in Saint-Pierre de Cholet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
40. RENÉE GRILLARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 10 February 1766 in Saint-Pierre de Cholet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
41. PERRINE GRILLE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 February 1742 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
42. JEANNE GRUGET veuve DOLY
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1745 in Châtillon-sur-Sevre, Deux-Sèvres (France)
43. ANNE HAMARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1742 in Saint-Clément, Maine-et-Loire (France)
44. PERRINE LEDOYEN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 September 1764 in Saint-Aubin-de Luigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
45. MARIE LENÉE épouse LEPAGE DE VARANCÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 July 1729 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
46. MARIE LEROY épouse BREVET
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1755 in (?)
47. MARIE LEROY
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 May 1771 in Montilliers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
48. RENÉE MARTIN épouse MARTIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1752 in (?)
49. FRANÇOISE MICHAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1765 in (?)
50. JACQUINE MONNIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 January 1726 in Saint-Melaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
51. FRANÇOISE PAGIS épouse RAILLEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 October 1732 in Gouis, Maine-et-Loire (France)
52. MADELEINE PERROTIN veuve ROUSSEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 30 March 1744 in Saint-Germain-des-Près, Maine-et-Loire (France)
53. PERRINE-CHARLOTTE PHELIPPEAUX épouse SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 13 May 1740 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
54. MARIE ANNE PICHERY épouse DELAHAYE
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 30 July 1754 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
55. ROSE QUENION
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 20 January 1764 in Mozé-sur-Louet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
56. LOUISE-OLYMPE RALLIER DE LA TERTINIÈRE veuve DÉAN DE LUIGNÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 24 April 1732 in Châteaugontier, Mayenne (France)
57. MARGUERITE RIVIÈRE épouse HUAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 20 August 1756 in La Ferrière-de-Flée, Maine-et-Loire (France)
58. MARIE ROUAULT épouse BOUJU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 October 1744 in Vezins, Maine-et-Loire (France)
59. PERRINE SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 March 1768 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
60. JEANNE SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 July 1769 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
61. MADELEINE SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 09 August 1770 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
62. RENÉE VALIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 08 March 1760 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)

10 February 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

63. LOUISE BESSAY DE LA VOUTE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 22 August 1721 in Saint-Mars-des-Prés, Vendée (France)
64. CATHERINE DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 29 June 1758 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
65. MARIE-LOUISE DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 27 June 1765 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
66. PIERRE FRÉMOND
layperson of the diocese of Angers
Marie-Anne Hacher du Bois born: 16 September 1754 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
67. MARIE-ANNE HACHER DU BOIS
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 April 1765 in Jallais, Maine-et-Loire (France)
68. LOUISE POIRIER épouse BARRÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 22 February 1754 in Le Longeron, Maine-et-Loire (France)

22 March 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

69. FRANÇOIS CHARTIER
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 June 1752 in Marigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)

28 March 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

70. RENÉE-MARIE FEILLATREAU épouse DUMONT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 February 1751 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

16 April 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

71. PIERRE DELÉPINE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 May 1732 in Marigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
72. JEAN MÉNARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 16 November 1736 in Andigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
73. RENÉE BOURGEAIS veuve JURET
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 12 November 1751 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
74. PERRINE BOURIGAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 07 August 1743 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
75. MADELEINE CADY épouse DESVIGNES
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 07 April 1756 in Saint-Maurille de Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
76. MARIE FORESTIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 January 1768 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
77. MARIE GINGUENEAU veuve COIFFARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1739 in (?)
78. JEANNE GOURDON veuve MOREAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 October 1733 in Sainte-Christine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
79. MARIE LARDEUX
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1748 in (?)
80. PERRINE LAURENT
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 02 September 1746 in Louvaines, Maine-et-Loire (France)
81. JEANNE LEDUC épouse PAQUIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 10 February 1754 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
82. ANNE MAUGRAIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 12 April 1760 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
83. FRANÇOISE MICHENEAU veuve GILLOT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 May 1737 in Chanteloup-les-Bois, Maine-et-Loire (France)
84. JEANNE ONILLON veuve ONILLON
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 April 1753 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
85. MARIE PIOU épouse SUPIOT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 May 1755 in Montrevault, Maine-et-Loire (France)
86. PERRINE POTTIER épouse TURPAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 April 1750 in Cléré-sur-Layon, Maine-et-Loire (France)
87. MARIE-GENEVIEVE POULAIN DE LA FORESTRIE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 January 1741 in Lion-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
88. MARTHE POULAIN DE LA FORESTRIE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 02 October 1743 in Lion-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
89. RENÉE RIGAULT épouse PAPIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 May 1750 in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, Maine-et-Loire (France)
90. MARGUERITE ROBIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 22 December 1725 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
91. MARIE RECHARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 29 April 1763 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
92. MARIE ROGER veuve CHARTIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 January 1727 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
93. MADELEINE SALLÉ épouse HAVARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1751 in (?)
94. RENÉE SECHET veuve DAVY
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 28 December 1753 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
95. FRANÇOISE SUHARD veuve MÉNARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: February 5, 1731 in Saint-Gemmes-d’Andigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
96. JEANNE THOMAS veuve DELAUNAY
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1730 in (?)

18 April 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

97. JOSEPH MOREAU
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 21 October 1763 in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Plaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)

24 August 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

98. ANDRÉ FARDEAU
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 November 1761 in Soucelles, Maine-et-Loire (France)

14 October 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

99. JACQUES LAIGNEAU DE LANGELLERIE
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 17 April 1747 in La Flèche, Sarthe (France)

The hospital of Saint-Jean was one of the oldest hospitals in France, founded in 1175 by Henri Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and King of England, to expiate for the murder of Thomas Becket. By the seventeenth century it needed restructuring, as the mayor, aldermen, and townspeople attested. The Bishop of Angers, Claude de Rueil, and the Abbe de Vaux, addressed themselves to Saint Vincent de Paul with the request for the Daughters of Charity. In December 1639 Saint Louise de Marillac herself brought there the first Daughters of Charity, the first to leave the environs of Paris and the Motherhouse. The contract between the Company of the Daughters of Charity and the administrators of the hospital was signed February 1, 1640.

In the rules which he wrote in collaboration with Saint Louise, Saint Vincent specified the reasons for the mission to Angers:

“The Daughters of Charity of the poor sick have gone to Angers to honor Our Lord, the Father of the Poor and His Blessed Mother, to assist, both bodily and spiritually, the sick poor of the Hotel Dieu in that city. Corporally by ministering to them and providing them with food and medicine, and spiritually by instructing the sick in the things necessary to salvation and, when they need a confession of their whole past life, by arranging the means for it, for those who would die in this state and for those who would be cured by resolving never more to offend God.”

Saint Vincent then proposed for them the means to be faithful to God and to become Good Servants of the Poor:

“The first thing Our Lord asks of them is that they love Him above all and that all their actions be done for love of Him. Secondly, that they cherish each other as Sisters whom He has united by the bond of His love, and the sick poor as their masters since Our Lord is in them and they in Our Lord.”

In 1790 the revolutionary Assembly in France ordered the confiscation of all religious property and on July 12, 1790 promulgated the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which made the clergy functionaries of the state and the Church a national church.

In November the government demanded that the clergy take a prescribed oath: “I swear to be faithful to the nation, to the law, to the king, and to uphold with all my power the Constitution decreed by the National Assembly and accepted by the king.”

The Reign of Terror in Angers

On September 2, 1793, local revolutionaries were annoyed to hear that the Sisters were still working peacefully at the hospital of Saint-Jean. A petition was sent to the municipality: at all cost, and as soon as possible, the Sisters must be made to take the oath and shed their habit. The Sisters replied that the oath was meant only for public office holders; that their sole function was to look after the sick; that up to this time they had not disturbed public order; that, for these reasons, they considered themselves dispensed from all oaths, and that they would not take any. Yet, some weeks later the sisters were made to change their habits. From Sister Marie-Anne’s own words, on the day of her interrogation: the sacrifice of the holy habit was one of the most painful of her life. On their new headdress the Sisters had to wear the national cockade, which had been made obligatory for women by law.

french_female_cockade

The year 1793 drew to a close amidst continual alarms. On the night of November 11, the cathedral of Angers was pillaged, the statues mutilated or broken, the tombs desecrated. The clock of the church of the Trinity, close by the hospital, was pulled down, the crucifix destroyed. Christmas passed without Mass. The very name of Christmas had been eliminated from the Republican calendar.”

Notre Père qui êtes aux cieux, que votre nom soit sanctifié, que votre règne arrive, que votre volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel. Donnez nous aujourd’hui notre pain quotidien; pardonnez nous nos offenses comme nous pardonnons à ceux qui nous ont offensés; et ne nous laissez pas succomber à la tentation; mais délivrez nous du mal. Ainsi soit-il.

Je vous salue Marie, Marie pleine de grâce, le Seigneur est avec vous, Vous êtes bénieentre toute les femmes, et Jésus, le fruit de vos entrailles, est béni. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu, priez pour nous, pauvres pécheurs, maintenant et à l’heure de notre mort. Ainsi soit-il

Je crois en Dieu, le Père tout puissant, Créateur du ciel et de la terre, et en Jésus-Christ son fils unique, Notre-Seigneur, qui a été conçu du Saint Esprit, est né de la Vierge Marie, a souffert sous Ponce Pilate, a été crucifié, est mort, a été enseveli; est descendu aux enfers; le troisième jour, est ressucité des morts, est monté aux cieux, est assis à la droite de Dieu le Père tout-puissant, d’où il viendra juger les vivants et les morts.

Je crois au Saint Esprit, à la Sainte Eglise Catholique, à la communion des Saints, à la rémission des péchés, à la résurection de la chair, à la vie éternelle. Ainsi soit-il

Merci, Le Sacré Coeur de Jésus!

Dieu Le Roy!

Love,
Matthew

Jul 9 – St Andrew Wouters, (1542-1572), Priest, Fornicator, Martyr of Gorkum

standrewwouters2

Lewiswilliamsofs

-Artist, Lewis Williams, OFS

Artist’s Narrative:
“How often we revel in seeing the speck in our brothers’ eye, avoiding the plank in our own. How easy it is from our moral high ground to judge our neighbor, particularly when those failings occur in the context of a vow to religious life.

Fr. Andrew Wouters was a man reminiscent of Graham Greene’s ‘whisky priest’ in his book, The Power and the Glory. His scandalous life as a diocesan priest was a public failure on the grounds of his womanizing and fathering several children. He was easy to dismiss and ridicule.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation conflicts were ripe during the summer of 1572 in Andrews’ home territory of Gorkum, Holland. June 26th, a band of Calvinist ‘pirates’ arrived by sea to cleanse the area of papists, rounding up many priests and brothers. Many were tortured and asked to renounce the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Rising to some call deep in his soul, Fr. Andrew volunteered to support his brothers in their captivity and joined them. All were taken by boat to Briel, mocked and asked to choose freedom by denying the pope as Christ’s representative head of the Church.


-Représentation du martyr de Gorkum en 1572. Peinture de Cesare Fracassini (1838-1868) exposée au Vatican. Please click on the image for greater detail.

19 Martyrs of Gorkum placed their faith in their God and were hanged from the roof beams in the shed of a former monastery, the bodies unceremoniously dumped in a group grave. Wouters’ last words were, “Fornicator I always was; heretic I never was.” Forty years later, their bodies were removed to Brussels and reinterred there in a Franciscan church. Pope Pius IX declared them saints in 1867.

God offers a full days wage even to laborers whose work in his field is very brief.”

“Fornicator I always was; heretic, I never was.” -St Andrew Wouters


-The Apotheosis of the Martyrs of Gorkum 1572, print made by Jean-Baptiste Nolin after a painting by Johan Zierneels, 1675. Please click on the image for greater detail.

Love,
Matthew

Jul 9 – St John of Cologne, OP, (d.1572), Priest, Martyr of Gorkum, “Great Athlete of Christ”

st_john_of_cologne

st john of cologne

In his Decree of Canonization, St. John of Cologne was praised as a “great athlete of Christ.” As his title suggests, this Dominican priest is best known for the victory of his martyrdom, but it was his lifelong training in fidelity, lived through the Dominican charism, which prepared him for this final conquest.

St. John attended the University of Cologne in the middle of the sixteenth century. Although we don’t know much about his early life, we can learn something about it from John’s cultural setting. At this time, western Germany, Belgium, and Holland were dominated by Calvinist teaching, which viewed human nature as completely corrupt and denied the healing action of grace. As a result, even many Catholics had lost a sense of the reality of the sacramental life. Not unlike today, many in John’s age found moral absolutes hard to identify, and faith had become relegated to the private sphere.

Amid these uncertain cultural currents, John discovered the solid foundation of truth when he began his studies at the University of Cologne, then recognized as one of the best educational institutions in Europe. Not only did John acknowledge intellectual truth, but he also came to know the Person of Truth, Jesus Christ, and followed His call to the Dominican Order. He entered the Order at Cologne and received his formation there.

After completing his education, John was assigned to a parish in the Netherlands village of Horner, where he served for twenty years. Although we do not have records of the sermons of John of Cologne, his final actions give the most eloquent testimony about what he considered the purpose of his priestly vocation. In the spring of 1571, a group of militant Calvinists along with a band of pirates began raiding Dutch villages, particularly focusing on the arrest and capture of the Catholic clergy. In June of that year, the neighboring town of Gorkum was attacked, and the clergy were captured. Fifteen priests, the majority of them Franciscans, had been imprisoned.

Upon hearing of their arrest, John immediately disguised himself and sought to bring these priests the consolation of the sacraments. For several days he was successful, but was eventually captured along with three other priests. These nineteen were imprisoned in Gorkum from June 26 until July 6, undergoing much abuse as they were asked to deny the tenets of the Catholic faith.

On July 6, the nineteen martyrs were transferred to the prison at Dortrecht. Along the way, villagers were charged admission for viewing the torture of the priests. Once in Dortecht, each of them was asked to deny belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and in the primacy of the Pope. Each one remained steadfast in his profession of faith. Despite an order from the Dutch ruler William of Orange that the priests not be harmed, they were cruelly mutilated and hanged on the night of July 9, 1572. The Dominican John of Cologne, great athlete of Christ, had won his final victory of martyrdom. Along with his companions, he was beatified on November 14, 1675 and canonized on June 29, 1865.

stjohnofcologne

richard-steenvoorde

-by Br Richard Steenvoorde, OP, English Province

“The story of saint John of Cologne O.P. (+1572) proves that you can become a saint by doing the right thing at the right time.

John of Cologne was a 17th century Dominican in what is now the Netherlands, near the city of Gorinchem. He was a parish priest. In 1572 John is caught up in the Dutch Wars of Independence from Spain, which, confusingly, at the same time were also civil wars over religion. A band of Calvinist rebels had captured one city near Rotterdam, and introduced the strictest form of Calvinism possible. From there they undertook their raids in aid of the rebellion led by the protestant prince William of Orange (not to be confused by the later English King).

The rebels captured the town of Gorkum (present day: Gorinchem) and imprisoned all of the Franciscans, and some secular priests. They would be released if they would swear allegiance to the new Calvinist faith. Now John heard of this, and -in disguise- went out to visit the prisoners in order to give them Holy Communion. However, he was betrayed, and was added to the prisoners.

Soon after that, the group was shipped off to the centre of a Calvinist stronghold: Den Briel (Brielle). Upon arriving, they were forced to process around the gallows near the harbor.

“Sing”; the people shouted mockingly: “Sing something about Mary”. And one young friar finds the courage to sing. And the others join in. And suddenly the people are moved by the dignity of these men. Tears well up, and a deep silence comes over the crowd when the men stop. Quickly the pirates move the men to another pair of gallows in the town’s centre and force them to sing again, and they sing the Te Deum.

A mock trial follows, a late intervention by the Prince of Orange to save the men goes horribly wrong. The men are hanged in an old stable, part of a ruined monastic complex.

How must our brother John have felt in all this? We don’t know. No words of his were preserved. But I think his life is a sermon for us. He went out to bring Christ to others in need. He joined them in their suffering. Staying dignified, impressing their executioners, praying to God, finding courage through their deepest fears.

By this testimony, I think, the Martyrs of Gorkum, including friar John, have given us a testimony of what it means to be blessed in times of great adversity. Between how people treat us, and how we respond, there is a choice. John chose to respond as he had probably preached many times before. To witness that evil has not the last word. That through Christ’s redemptive work, we are truly blessed.”

Love,
Matthew

Feb 6 – St Paul Miki, SJ & Companions; Christian Martrydom? Is it REALLY about death? 日本二十六聖人, Nihon Nijūroku Seijin


-by Br Bonaventure Chapman, OP (prior to joining the Order, Br Bonaventure received an M.Th. in Applied Theology from Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, where he studied for the Anglican priesthood.)

“Thanks to secularization, modern people easily forget the true meaning of Christian words. Take, for instance, the saints we celebrate today: St. Paul Miki and his companions were martyred in 1597 on the outskirts of Nagasaki, Japan. A witness to the execution records St. Paul Miki’s final sermon:

‘As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.’

St. Paul Miki, a martyr for the faith; and yet I find many people don’t understand what martyrdom is about. Perhaps you have had this experience, but on a number of occasions people have asked me why Christian martyrdom is okay but Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombing is not. “They are both about dying for faith,” one hears. Leaving aside for now the issue of Islamic fundamentalists, this is a good time to reflect on why Christian martyrdom is not really about death.

St. Thomas follows the classical tradition in classifying actions according to their object, or end. So the act of eating is about food, the act of reading is about words on a page, the act of shooting is about hitting a target. Ends are essential in the definition of the act. Now, this doesn’t mean that circumstances are unimportant; it just means they are extrinsic to the act itself. So, for instance, the act of reading is essentially the same whether one reads a book, magazine, computer screen, billboard, etc. The circumstances can add moral qualifications to the action (shooting skeet with a bazooka is morally different when it is done in the middle of a country field rather than at a busy airport), but the essence of the act remains the same. Make sense? Good.

What is the essential act of martyrdom? What is its end? Here’s the point: it is not death. The martyr does not seek death as the end or object of his or her act. That is called suicide, no matter how noble the cause. The martyr would be just as happy not dying because of a confession of faith. Witness Peter and John in Acts 5, first being let out of prison by an angel and then rejoicing after only a slight beating upon recapture. They were ready to die for the faith (and Peter eventually would), but they didn’t stay in jail in the hopes of death, nor did they leave the Sadducees downcast because they only received a good drubbing. They had preached and witnessed to Christ; that was the essential part.

St. Thomas highlights this aspect in his discussion of martyrdom in the Summa Theologiae:

“Martyrdom consists essentially in standing firmly to truth and justice against the assaults of persecution” (ST II-II, q. 124, a. 1, corpus). Martyrdom, for St. Thomas, is a special act of fortitude, a “standing firm” in the face of death. But death is not the goal. St. Thomas explains: “endurance of death is not praiseworthy in itself, but only in so far as it is directed to some good consisting in an act of virtue, such as faith or the love of God” (ST II-II, q. 124, a. 3, corpus). Now, of course, death is rightly associated with martyrdom, wherein the Christian’s virtuous “endurance” is rendered in the most perfect fashion. St. Thomas explains: “A martyr is so called as being a witness to the Christian faith, which teaches us to despise things visible for the sake of things invisible… therefore the perfect notion of martyrdom requires that a man suffer death for Christ’s sake” (ST II-II, q. 124, a. 4, corpus).

A (Christian) martyr is one who dies not for death’s sake, but for Christ’s sake, which makes all the difference in the world. Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P., explains: “Theological faith provides the specific adherence that distinguishes Christian martyrdom from political assassination or dying for an ideological cause.” There is a certain passivity in the martyr, which is absent in the suicide bomber: something akin to the passivity of Christ on the cross. The martyr suffers death; he does not seek it.  (Ed. heretic Montantists actively sought martyrdom from the Romans.  Catholics were discouraged by the Church from actively seeking this.  Accept if unavoidable in witness to Christ, but do NOT pursue death FOR ITS OWN SAKE.  Never.)

This understanding of martyrdom raises two important points. First, every Christian should have a bit of martyr in him or her, at least by way of similitude. Whenever we are called to witness to the difference Christ makes in our lives – in word or deed, and in the face of opposition – we can, like St. Paul Miki and his Companions, ask for the gift of fortitude, in whatever dose we need for the situation. Second, this brings a new seriousness to any act of witness. One of the crucial theological debates of the early Church was what to do with Christians who failed to witness to the faith during persecution. The early Church took witnessing to Christ seriously, even if it did not always end in death. Do we?”

What martyrdom are we/am I willing to endure for Him?  Time?  Work?  Convenience? Comfort? Legal?  Opposing unjust laws?  Seeking equity in society and resources?  Arrest?  Record?  Incarceration?  Social?  Professional?  Reputational?  Familial?  Financial?  Ecclesial? Political?  Paternal/Maternal/Fraternal?  Marital? (reading Matt’s prattling blog?)  🙂

As gentle, edifying Lenten sacrifice/mortification approaches, let’s give this important/vital/life giving thought some solemn, quiet consideration, and respond as the Spirit directs.  All grace required to accomplish will be supplied.  I promise.  🙂  Phil 3:8.

Prayer

O Christ, the source of endless life,
We bring you thanks and praise today
That martyrs bold your name confessed
And, through their pain, held to your Way.

The gospel preached within Japan
Converted both adult and child,
And flourished there by your rich grace
Despite oppression fierce and wild.

When hatred for this infant church
Broke out in persecution’s might,
Your martyrs knew You as their Lord
Who shined in darkness as their Light.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
To You all glory now is due.
As were the Martyrs of Japan,
May we to Christ be ever true!

Love,
Matthew

Oct 23 – The Eleven Ursuline Martyrs of Valenciennes, France d. 1794

valenciennes

A group of eleven nuns of the Ursuline Order who were arrested by authorities of the French revolutionary government and guillotined between October 17 and 23, 1794, at Valenciennes. Their crime: they reopened a school in contravention to the government decree prohibiting unapproved educational institutions from functioning. The nuns were: Sr Clotilde Paillot, OSU, superior; Sr Marie Louise Ducret, OSU; Sr Marie Magdalen Desjardin, OSU; Sr Marie Louise Vanot, OSU; Sr Françoise Lacroix, OSU; Sr Margaret Leroux, OSU; Sr Anne Marie Erraux, OSU; Sr Anne Joseph Leroux, OSU; Sr Gabrielle Bourla, OSU; Sr Jane Louis Barré, OSU; and Sr Jane Rievie Prin, OSU. The prioress, Sr Clotilde Paillot, OSU, tried to take the entire blame on herself for any illegal actions but the tribunal refused to agree and all were condemned to the guillotine. Sr Marie Erraux, OSU was utterly terrified and Sr Clotilde comforted and supported her, promising to stay close beside her.

Valenciennes is within the boundary of France but very close to the border of the Austrian Netherlands (present day Belgium). The Revolutionary government closed a larger number of religious houses and schools, including that of the Ursulines. Their property seized and confiscated, evicted, the Ursulines moved across the border to Mons in the Netherlands, where another Ursuline monastery gave them shelter.

In 1793 Austria invaded northern France to vindicate its sovereignty over the Austrian Netherlands. In doing so it also seized a strip of French territory that included Valenciennes. The evicted nuns therefore returned to Valenciennes, now Austrian, and reopened their school. But the French retaliated and recaptured Valenciennes. What were the poor nuns to do now? They decided to continue with their school in their old home.

Shortly thereafter, the French government arrested and jailed the Ursulines of Valenciennes. On what charge? That they were emigrees who had returned to France without permission and were illegally conducting a religious school! Five of them were brought to trial on October 17, 1794. They stated frankly that they had returned to teach the Catholic religion. For this crime they were condemned to death by the anti-Christian French authorities.

One of the sisters, Sr Marie Augustine Dejardin, OSU, said to the mother superior (who had not yet been sentenced), “Mother, you taught us to be valiant, and now that we are going to be crowned, you weep!”

Five days later the same superior, Sr Marie Clotilde Paillot, OSU, and the other five nuns were condemned to die in the same manner. Mother Paillot made the public declaration, “We die for the faith of the Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church!” This time the victims were transported to the guillotine in a tumbril or dump-cart.

Now, the commissioners had overlooked a lay sister of the community, Cordule Barre. Cordule would not be separated from her sisters. Hurrying over to the cart, she climbed in of her own accord, and was executed with the rest. As they moved on to the scaffold, all eleven sang the Litany of Our Lady. What do Catholic martyrs do facing their immanent death? They sing!


-“Les onze Ursulines de Valciennes” the execution of eleven Ursuline nuns on 17.and 23.10.1794, by commissar Jean-Baptiste Lacoste following Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, wood engraving, 1921, from: Almanac du Pelerin de 1921 Maison de la bonne Press, Paris. No. 3997.

Litany of Our Lady

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the word, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Mother of Divine Grace, pray for us.
Mother most pure, pray for us.
Mother most chaste, pray for us.
Mother inviolate, pray for us.
Mother undefiled, pray for us.
Mother most amiable, pray for us.
Mother most admirable, pray for us.
Mother of good counsel, pray for us.
Mother of our Creator, pray for us.
Mother of our Savior, pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
Virgin most venerable, pray for us.
Virgin most renowned, pray for us.
Virgin most powerful, pray for us.
Virgin most merciful, pray for us.
Virgin most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of justice, pray for us.
Seat of wisdom, pray for us.
Cause of our joy, pray for us.
Spiritual vessel, pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.
Mystical rose, pray for us.
Tower of David, pray for us.
Tower of ivory, pray for us.
House of gold, pray for us.
Ark of the Covenant, pray for us.
Gate of heaven, pray for us.
Morning star, pray for us.
Health of the sick, pray for us.
Refuge of sinners, pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.
Help of Christians, pray for us.
Queen of angels, pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs, pray for us.
Queen of prophets, pray for us.
Queen of apostles, pray for us.
Queen of martyrs, pray for us.
Queen of confessors, pray for us.
Queen of virgins, pray for us.
Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
Queen conceived without Original Sin, pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven, pray for us.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.
Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Queen of the Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; spare us O Lord!
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 Let us pray. Grant, we ask You, Lord, that we, your servants, may enjoy lasting health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enter into the joy of eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen

At these killings the crowd was usually out for entertainment jeering and shouting insults and making a great noise. But as the sisters were led to the guillotine the crowd fell utterly silent and still. Sr Clotilde thanked the soldiers, calling it the most beautiful day of their lives. They were not allowed any religious symbols, but she had hidden a crucifix on her person, and when she reached the guillotine, she threw it out into the crowd.

Two hundred years later, at a service commemorating the bicentenary of their death, the family of Sr Clotilde brought this crucifix to the Ursulines and asked them to keep it in the convent chapel at Valenciennes in memory of the martyred sisters.

Love,
Matthew

Jul 9 – Franciscan Martyrs of China & Companions: The Boxer Rebellion

The_Ci-Xi_Imperial_Dowager_Empress_(5)
-the Empress Dowager Cixi

The uprising by the “Society for Justice and Harmony” (commonly known as the “Boxers”; don’t you just LOVE these euphemisms?  Not well disguised, except from the truly moronic?  “The Committee on Public Safety” in the French Revolution?  Pick a lobby in Washington?  Ok, I’ll cede one, “The Holy Office”, aka, The Inquisition :), occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century and caused the shedding of the blood of many Christians, Catholic & Protestant.

After a long drought, a slight drizzle began to moisten the dry fields of Shanxi province. But it was too late.  Local peasants had already spread rumors – the Christians were to blame for the long-term lack of rain. Banners had begun to appear throughout the region: “The skies won’t rain, the earth is scorched, all because the churches have blocked the heavens” (Taiyuan jiaochu jianhua, 311).

Two Franciscan bishops, two priests, a brother, and seven nuns had prayed for rain, but when it had finally arrived they knew it could not stop the tide of violence. Chinese Christians all around them were already being captured, ordered to renounce their faith in God, and executed if they refused. By the summer of 1900 a group of anti-foreign and anti-Christian men and women had organized themselves into roaming bands of martial artists groups carrying long swords, spears, and halberds; they called themselves the Yihetuan, or the “Society of Righteous Harmony.” Their duty, they asserted, was to support the ruling court and “annihilate all foreigners.”

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the Franciscan bishops, priests, and nuns were reciting the Divine Office together with Chinese faithful in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, when they heard the clamor of weapons approaching their small room. Instinctively knowing that they would soon be executed, those present all knelt before Bishop Gregorius Grassi, the ordinary of their remote Chinese diocese. Grassi trembled with emotion as he said to his fellow Christians, “The hour of death has come, my children: kneel down and I will give you holy absolution” (Franciscan Martyrs of the Boxer Rising, 14).

Bishops Grassi and Francis Fogolla, Fathers Theodiric Balat and Elias Fachini, Brother Andreus Bauer, seven nuns, fourteen Chinese Catholics, and a group of Protestants who had also been arrested, were each stripped to the waist, men and women, and tied together. On their way to the governor’s mansion, where their execution ground was being prepared, the Franciscans were derided and beaten both by their guards and the mob that lined the street.

Once they had arrived at Governor Yuxian’s official residence, the missionaries and native Catholics were ordered to kneel in the large courtyard. There was no trial. In Cardinal Louis Nazaire Bégin’s account of what happened next, we hear of how they were martyred:
‘Kill them, kill them!’ roared the crowd. Yu-Hsien striking with his own sword cried: ‘Kill them!’ At this sight the soldiers began the slaughter, dealing blows right and left, cruelly injuring their victims before giving the final stroke. Father Elie, aged sixty-one years, received more than one hundred sword cuts and at each lifted his eyes to heaven saying: ‘I go to heaven.’

During the scene the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were spectators, for their executioners hoped the sight of the martyred priests would make their own death more horrible. They knelt in prayer with eyes lifted to heaven, praying for the martyrs, for the conversion of their persecutors and for the perseverance of the Christians. . . . The nuns embraced each other, intoned St Ambrose & St Augustine’s Te Deum Laudamus (Christian martyrs, when presented with immanent death, SING! see also Carmelites of the French Revolution), and presented their heads to the executioners…(Life of Mother Marie Hermine, 62-63).

Father Andrew Wang tried to evade the Boxers by wearing secular garb and taking flight into Shanxi’s remote areas. Father Wang spent several days without food or shelter, and finally in a state of exhaustion, coughing blood, was discovered by his pursuers, who took him to the local magistrate for trial.

During his investigation, he was told by the local official: “. . . if you renounce your religion you will receive clothes and money, and your life will be spared.” Father Wang calmly informed his judge that he was a priest, reasserted his faith in God, and asked to be executed on the grounds of his church, which had just been destroyed by the Boxers.

The Boxer Rebellion, Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan Movement was a violent anti-foreign and anti-Christian movement which took place in China towards the end of the Qing dynasty between 1898 and 1900. It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan), known in English as the “Boxers”, and was motivated by proto-nationalist sentiments and opposition to foreign imperialism and Christianity. The Great Powers intervened and defeated Chinese forces.

The uprising took place against a background of severe drought, and the disruption caused by the growth of foreign spheres of influence. After several months of growing violence against foreign and Christian presence in Shandong and the North China plain, in June 1900 Boxer fighters, convinced they were invulnerable to foreign weapons, converged on Beijing with the slogan “Support the Qing, exterminate the foreigners.”

Foreigners and Chinese Christians sought refuge in the Legation Quarter. In response to reports of an armed invasion to lift the siege, the initially hesitant Empress Dowager Cixi supported the Boxers and on June 21 authorized war on foreign powers. Diplomats, foreign civilians and soldiers, and Chinese Christians in the Legation Quarter were under siege by the Imperial Army of China and the Boxers for 55 days. Chinese officialdom was split between those supporting the Boxers and those favoring conciliation, led by Prince Qing.

The supreme commander of the Chinese forces, Ronglu, later claimed that he acted to protect the besieged foreigners. The Eight-Nation Alliance, after being initially turned back, brought 20,000 armed troops to China, defeated the Imperial Army, and captured Beijing (Peking) on August 14, lifting the siege of the Legations. Uncontrolled plunder of the capital and the surrounding countryside ensued, along with the summary execution of those suspected of being Boxers.

The Boxer Protocol of September 7, 1901 provided for the execution of government officials who had supported the Boxers, provisions for foreign troops to be stationed in Beijing, and an indemnity of 450 million taels of silver – more than the government’s annual tax revenue, to be paid as indemnity over a course of thirty-nine years to the eight nations involved.

As a result of the Boxer Rebellion, the martyrdom of Catholic & Protestant missionaries and many Chinese took place who can be grouped together as follows. Twenty-seven Franciscans and Franciscan tertiaries and their confreres in faith who became victims of the Boxer Rebellion; they represent more than 100,000 Christians of China who were martyred in the reign of Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi (Cixi).

a) Martyrs of Shanxi, killed on July 9, 1900 (known as the Taiyuan Massacre), who were Franciscan Friars Minor:

1. Saint Gregory Grassi, Bishop,
2. Saint Francis Fogolla, Bishop,
3. Saint Elias Facchini, Priest,
4. Saint Theodoric Balat, Priest,
5. Saint Andrew Bauer, Religious Brother;

b) Martyrs of Southern Hunan, who were also Franciscan Friars Minor:

6. Saint Anthony Fantosati, Bishop (martyred on July 7, 1900), vicar apostolic of Hengchow,
7. Saint Joseph Mary Gambaro, Priest (martyred on July 7, 1900), who was tortured to death,
8. Saint Cesidio Giacomantonio, Priest (martyred on July 4, 1900), burned alive.

To the martyred Franciscans of the First Order were added seven Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, of whom three were French, two Italian, one Belgian, and one Dutch:

9. Saint Mary Hermina of Jesus (in saec: Irma Grivot),
10. Saint Mary of Peace (in saec: Mary Ann Giuliani),
11. Saint Mary Clare (in saec: Clelia Nanetti),
12. Saint Mary of the Holy Birth (in saec: Joan Mary Kerguin),
13. Saint Mary of Saint Justus (in saec: Ann Moreau),
14. Saint Mary Adolfine (in saec: Ann Dierk),
15. Saint Mary Amandina (in saec: Paula Jeuris).

Of the martyrs belonging to the Franciscan family, there were also eleven Secular Franciscans, all Chinese:

15. Saint John Zhang Huan, seminarian,
16. Saint Patrick Dong Bodi, seminarian,
17. Saint John Wang Rui, seminarian,
18. Saint Philip Zhang Zhihe, seminarian,
19. Saint John Zhang Jingguang, seminarian,
20. Saint Thomas Shen Jihe, layman and a manservant,
21. Saint Simon Qin Chunfu, lay catechist,
22. Saint Peter Wu Anbang, layman,
23. Saint Francis Zhang Rong, layman and a farmer,
24. Saint Matthew Feng De, layman and neophyte,
25. Saint Peter Zhang Banniu, layman and labourer.

To these are joined a number of Chinese lay faithful:

26. Saint James Yan Guodong, farmer,
27. Saint James Zhao Quanxin, manservant,
28. Saint Peter Wang Erman, cook.

When the uprising of the “Boxers”, which had begun in Shandong and then spread through Shanxi and Hunan, also reached South-Eastern Tcheli (currently named Hebei), which was then the Apostolic Vicariate of Xianxian, in the care of the Jesuits, the Christians killed could be counted in thousands. Among these were four French Jesuit missionaries and at least 52 Chinese lay Christians: men, women and children – the oldest of them being 79 years old, while the youngest were aged only nine years. All suffered martyrdom in the month of July 1900. Many of them were killed in the church in the village of Tchou-Kia-ho (or Zhujiahe), in which they were taking refuge and where they were in prayer together with the first two of the missionaries listed below:

29. Saint Leo Mangin, S.J., Priest,
30. Saint Paul Denn, S.J., Priest,
31. Saint Rémy Isoré, S.J., Priest,
32. Saint Modeste Andlauer, S.J., Priest.

The names and ages of the Chinese lay Christians were as follows:

33. Saint Mary Zhu born Wu, aged about 50 years,
34. Saint Petrus Zhu Rixin, aged 19,
35. Saint Ioannes Baptista Zhu Wurui, aged 17,
36. Saint Mary Fu Guilin, aged 37,
37. Saint Barbara Cui born Lian, aged 51,
38. Saint Joseph Ma Taishun, aged 60,
39. Saint Lucia Wang Cheng, aged 18,
40. Saint Maria Fan Kun, aged 16,
41. Saint Mary Qi Yu, aged 15,
42. Saint Maria Zheng Xu, aged 11 years,
43. Saint Mary Du born Zhao, aged 51,
44. Saint Magdalene Du Fengju, aged 19,
45. Saint Mary Du born Tian, aged 42,
46. Saint Paul Wu Anju, aged 62,
47. Saint Ioannes Baptista Wu Mantang, aged 17,
48. Saint Paulus Wu Wanshu, aged 16,
49. Saint Raymond Li Quanzhen, aged 59,
50. Saint Peter Li Quanhui, aged 63,
51. Saint Peter Zhao Mingzhen, aged 61,
52. Saint John Baptist Zhao Mingxi, aged 56,
53. Saint Teresa Chen Jinjie, aged 25,
54. Saint Rose Chen Aijie, aged 22,
55. Saint Peter Wang Zuolong, aged 58,
56. Saint Mary Guo born Li, aged 65,
57. Saint Joan Wu Wenyin, aged 50,
58. Saint Zhang Huailu, aged 57,
59. Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, aged 66,
60. Saint Ann An born Xin, aged 72,
61. Saint Mary An born Guo, aged 64,
62. Saint Ann An born Jiao, aged 26,
63. Saint Mary An Linghua, aged 29,
64. Saint Paul Liu Jinde, aged 79,
65. Saint Joseph Wang Kuiju, aged 37,
66. Saint John Wang Kuixin, aged 25,
67. Saint Teresa Zhang born He, aged 36,
68. Saint Lang born Yang, aged 29,
69. Saint Paulus Lang Fu, aged 9,
70. Saint Elizabeth Qin born Bian, aged 54,
71. Saint Simon Qin Chunfu, aged 14,
72. Saint Peter Liu Ziyu, aged 57,
73. Saint Anna Wang, aged 14,
74. Saint Joseph Wang Yumei, aged 68,
75. Saint Lucy Wang born Wang, aged 31,
76. Saint Andreas Wang Tianqing, aged 9,
77. Saint Mary Wang born Li, aged 49,
78. Saint Chi Zhuzi, aged 18,
79. Saint Mary Zhao born Guo, aged 60,
80. Saint Rose Zhao, aged 22,
81. Saint Maria Zhao, aged 17,
82. Saint Joseph Yuan Gengyin, aged 47,
83. Saint Paul Ge Tingzhu, aged 61,
84. Saint Rose Fan Hui, aged 45.

Besides all those already mentioned who were killed by the Boxers, it is necessary also to remember:

85. Saint Alberic Crescitelli, a priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions of Milan, who carried out his ministry in Southern Shaanxi and was martyred on July 21, 1900.

Some years later, members of the Salesian Society of St John Bosco were added to the considerable number of martyrs recorded above:

86. Saint Louis Versiglia, Bishop,
87. Saint Callistus Caravario, Priest.

They were killed together on February 25, 1930 at Li-Thau-Tseul.

A 14-year-old Chinese girl named Ann Wang, who was killed during the Boxer Rebellion when she refused to apostatize. She bravely withstood the threats of her torturers, and just as she was about to be beheaded, she radiantly declared, “The door of heaven is open to all” and repeated the name of Jesus three times.

Another of the martyrs was 18-year-old Chi Zhuzi, who had been preparing to receive the sacrament of Baptism when he was caught on the road one night and ordered to worship idols. He refused to do so, revealing his belief in Christ. His right arm was cut off and he was tortured, but he would not deny his faith. Rather, he fearlessly pronounced to his captors, before being flayed alive, “Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian.”

Following the failure of the Boxer rebellion, the government recognized it had no choice but to modernize, which in turn led to a booming conversion period in the following decades. The Chinese developed respect for the moral level that Christians maintained in their hospital and schools. The continuing association between western imperialism in China and missionary efforts nevertheless continued to fuel hostilities against missions and Christianity in China. All missions were banned in China by the new communist regime after the outbreak of the Korean war in 1950, and officially continue to be legally outlawed to the present.

“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Love,
Matthew