Martyrs of China

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Feast Day: July 9
Canonized: October 1, 2000


Martyrs are people who die for their faith. In China, where Christian faiths were not allowed to be practiced for many centuries, there were many martyrs.

In the 1600s, Jesuit Fathers Matteo Ricci, Andrew Xavier and Johann Adam Schall von Bell were killed, as were Dominican Fathers Domingo Coronado and Francisco Fernandez.  In the 1700s,  five  Spanish Dominican priests (who were beatified in 1893) were killed, along with two Jesuit priests, a Franciscan brother and numerous lay catechists and faithful.

This persecution continued. In the 1800s,  two French bishops and more than 60 priests and seminarians were killed, as were 10 Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul and countless lay persons.

Even in the 20th century there were martyrs for the Catholic faith in China, from nearly every religious order serving in the missions. In the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, many priests, nuns, catechists and some 30,000 Chinese converts to Christianity were killed. Some were children. Many were killed in the church in which they were taking refuge in the village of Tchou-Kia-ho.

Their numbers were great, and all Martyrs in China — Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions — are saints of the church. Pope John Paul II recognized these martyrs in 2000 when he declared them saints. "The fact that this considerable number of lay Chinese faithful offered their lives for Christ together with the missionaries who had proclaimed the Gospel to them and had been so devoted to them, is evidence of the depth of the link that faith in Christ establishes," the pope said.

Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 6, chapter 11

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