Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Martyrs of Korea

At the beginning of the 19th century, Christianity saw a new beginning on Asian soil particularly in Japan, in China and in Korea. This new birth of the faith in this part of the world however, came with much tribulation and sacrifice for these peoples. Within less than a century, more than 10,000 faithful were martyred in Korea alone.

Among this great throng of martyrs is Korea's first native priest, Andrew Kim Taegon, whom we commemorate today together with all the martyrs of the Korean nation. His example of heroic service shines in his desire to become a priest for a persecuted Church in a most difficult time. By laying down his life in sacrifice, he became configured to Christ, Chief Shepherd of the flock, who was not only Priest for the fold but also Victim.

May the blood of these martyrs shed in faithful witness to Christ and to the faith inspire countless others in these parts of the world to live according to their faith, especially where the new persecution of materialism and secularism threatens to uproot it from people's hearts. May the Christian faith continue to flourish everywhere in the world, made fertile by the redeeming sacrifice of Christ to which the martyrs united the laying down of their own lives for the sake of the Gospel. Sanguis martyrum, semen Christianorum.

O God,
you have created all nations
and you are their salvation.
In the land of Korea,
your call to the Catholic faith
formed a people of adoption,
whose growth you nurtured
by the blood of Andrew, Paul and their companions.
Through their martyrdom and their intercession
grant us strength
that we too may remain
faithful to your commandments
even until death.

More about Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon
(includes a very moving letter to his flock while he was in prison)
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