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By our own correspondent

        Korea, 19 September 2022 -- For almost a century now (since the first 75 Korean martyrs beatification was in 1925) the Korean Catholic Church has been celebrating the 'Month of the Martyrs' and on 20 September is celebrating the Solemnity (for Korea) of St Andrew Kim Tae-gon and companions (103 Saint Martyrs): "O God, who has been pleased to increase your adopted children in all the world, and who made the blood of the Martyrs Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon and his companions a most fruitful seed of Christians, grant that we may be defended by their help and profit always from their example."

        The history of 10,000+ martyrs in the 18th and 19th century brought about today's Korean Church with almost six million faithful, 12,000 religious, and 6,000 priests. During the past 50 years the Korean Catholic Church has made a huge effort to document and deepen the memory of their martyrs: the Catholic History Research Center (1964) is producing many professional publications. Around the country there are no fewer than 187 Martyr's shrines, Martyrs tombs or birth-places, Martyrs memorial halls or Martyrdom venues.

        While most of the Martyrs pilgrim places are in the countryside, in September 2013 the Archdiocese of Seoul, along with the city of Seoul, created a 44.1km Catholic Pilgrimage Route to coincide with Pope Francis' visit in 2014, that was later (in 2018) approved as a World Official Pilgrimage by the Vatican (https://martyrs.or.kr/en/mpilgrims/about.html).

        During the Martyrs' Month Korean Catholics remember not only 103 saints canonized in 1984 by St Pope John Paul II, 124 Blesseds beatified in 2014 by Pope Francis, but also the beatification of Venerable Fr Choi Yang-eob Thomas and 133 servants of God - martyrs. Also for the Salesian Family (SDB province of Korea is entrusted to the Saint Korean Martyrs) it is a time of special thanks, pilgrimages and sharing the martyr's stories.

        However, there are two other groups of 'recent' martyrs who gave their life for Jesus in North Korea or during the Korean War (1950-1953): Servant of God Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho and 80 companions with Servant of God Abbas Bonifacio Sauer, OSB and 37 companions. A permanent exhibit of 57 annihilated Catholic parishes in North Korea documents this ongoing tragedy of persecution going on also today.

        The Feast of 103 Saint Korean Martyrs is a good opportunity to deepen our faith roots and give thanks to all who brought the faith to the numerous countries of the East Asia and Oceania region.

        Related resources:

        Japan: Saints-Blesseds-Venerables-Servants of God


 

 

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