Friday, September 20, 2013
Holy Korean Martyrs in the Church of Korea's Month of Martyrs
Today is the feast of Ottawa's Korean Parish, Holy Korean Martyrs, who are being celebrated in extensive fashion as the following excerpt from the UK's Catholic Herald indicates:
Although few know about these historical events outside Korean Christian circles, up to 8,000 Catholics were martyred during persecutions in Korea in the 19th century in the last great period of oppression before the age of Communism and Islamism.
In May 1984, 103 martyrs were canonized and this month the Catholic Church in South Korea is holding a “month of martyrs” with the support of Pope Francis. The first conversions in the traditionally Confucian country began in the late 19th century, around the time when the first Christian books written in Chinese were imported in 1777. By the time a Chinese priest arrived at the end of the century he found about 4,000 Catholics – none of whom had ever seen a priest. The faith had been maintained by aristocratic laymen, the only people who could read at the time, who had sent a delegation on foot 750 miles to Peking asking for a priest. They got two, but they soon returned and it was another 40 years before the arrival of Fr Mauban, Paul Chong Hasang, Augustine Yu Chin-gil and Charles Cho Shin-chol. Missionaries faced extreme penalties if caught and travelled only at night.
The first Korean priest, Fr Andrew Kim Taegon, was executed in 1846 aged only 25. Other martyrs included Paul Chong Hasang and his father Augustine, Peter Yu tae-chol, John Baptist Yi and Thomas Son Chason.
What especially irked traditional Koreans was that this new faith seemed to undermine class distinctions, encouraging the poor to mingle with their betters. By the time the persecutions had ended in 1866, there were only 20,000 Catholics left in the country, while the vast majority of martyrs were lay people....
Read more at: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/spirituallife/saintoftheweek/2013/09/12/the-korean-saints-of-undying-spirit/