The Lord is the King of Martyrs, come let us adore him!
Being influenced by parodies of the excessively bloody film 300, I have created this.
Today 9 July is the Memorial of St Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions. They were canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
St Augustine Zhao Rong (1746-1815) is first on the list because he was the the first native Chinese priest to be martyred. He was captured and died in prison.
Other Martyrs include 14-year-old Wang Anna (1886 – 1900), who refused to renounce her faith. Before she was beheaded, she exclaimed, “The door of heaven is open to all”, three times murmuring: “Jesus”. She was beheaded by Boxer rebels on July 21, 1900, in Wei County, Hebei Province.
18-year-old Chi Zhuzi (1882 – 1900) was an illiterate peasant who at the age of seventeen decided to join the Church. His family objected and he suffered much. He was banished from his home and he took refuge in another village. When discovered, he was ordered back. On the way, the Boxers captured him and forced him to worship idols. He refused and admitted to being Catholic. They cut off his right arm and mutlilated him to death. His famous words were: “Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian”.
Foreign as well as native Catholics were persecuted. The Spanish Dominican Father Francesco Fernandez de Capillas was beheaded in 1648 while reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. He is considered to be the Proto-Martyr of China, that is, the first martyr of China. The Dominican Fathers’ house in Serrangoon Gardens is named after him. Other Orders have illustrous martyrs as well, like the Paris Foreign Missions; Society of Jesus; Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, etc.
The entire list of the 120 martyrs can be found here. In total, 87 native Chinese and 33 foreign missionaries were killed between 1648 and 1930.
Recently the Holy Father has released a Motu Proprio on the Church in China. It would do everyone well to read it, especially all Chinese Catholics. This document expresses the Holy Father’s desire for religious freedom in China.
For centuries governments have tried to pit themselves against the Church by declaring the Church as an outsider. The Holy Father has stated, ‘No one in the Church is a foreigner, but all are citizens of the same People, members of the same Mystical Body of Christ.’ Indeed, the Body of Christ transcends all national, ethic, socio-economic boundaries. Let us pray that rulers will realize this.
The Holy Father has expressed a wish for dialogue with civil authorities in China. The prospect of negotiating with Communists may seem bleak, but great progress has been made with the government in Vietnam. Who knows if the same can be accomplished with China?
Sanguis martyrum est semen christianorum.
The blood of maryrs is the seed of Christians.
The Holy Father has proposed that 24 May be made a day of prayer for the Church in China.
On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure.
Therefore following the exhortation of our Holy Father, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in China, let us pray for them.
St Augustine and Companions, pray for us!
Our Lady of China, pray for us!